Well, it happened again.
You were scrolling through your News Feed, un-tagging pictures of yourself from last weekend and checking out all the articles about NASA finding evidence of water on Mars when BAM. All of a sudden your News Feed is clogged with people posting this same status:
“As of (date), I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates.”
Officially, the truth is in the middle. From the terms of service that you agree to when making an account:
“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”
In sum, Facebook doesn’t own your content, but they can use it royalty-free if you share it publicly. Posting a bogus status telling them not to isn’t going to do anything.
If someone else is claiming you’ll have to pay in order to keep your content private, they’re also spreading falsehoods. Facebook itself even weighed in:
What You Can Do to Protect Your Content
If you still don’t like the idea of Facebook being able to use your content how they wish, you can always change your own security settings here. We recommend looking through the settings yourself and changing them until you’re comfortable with the security of your account.
Of course, the only way to absolutely protect your content – from Facebook or any other users looking to use your pictures and videos – is to close your account and completely remove yourself from Facebook.
While hoaxes like these that crop up every few months are a nuisance, they bring a good discussion about privacy and security to the table. Once your content is on the internet, it’s never truly private, but there are steps you can take to limit how public it is and how it’s used.