Facebook & Social Media Falsehoods…


This happens every time Facebook sends out any kind of privacy update, and it kind of annoys me every time I see it. It’s not just facebook, but Twitter, Flickr, or almost any other site where users are the ones generating the content on the site. No, it’s not the update to the privacy policy of Facebook that annoys me, it’s the reaction of the users and the buying into myths that someone decides to create in terms of letting people know how they can “protect” their own intellectual property, usually through referencing some sort of law, legal decision or some other kind of legalese.

This is the current text of the one I have seen posted by more than one person, and it always really bothers me when I see someone I have always believed to be intelligent, sensible human beings, and yet they buy into the fallacious postings as if they are absolute and true. The superscript numbers apply to my comments afterwards.

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention1,2).
For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!3

Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws by the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control.4 The content of this profile is private and confidential information.5 The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-1036 and the Rome Statute7).

Facebook is now an open capital entity.8 All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.9

Now to deconstruct and explain why this is meaningless for you…

1- There is no such thing as the Berner Convention. There is something known as the Berne Convention, which is what this is likely referencing, but failing to do so because of a bad typist, and then no one actually understanding what they are copying and pasting, but just blindly doing so because they are sheep and think they are protecting something that either needs no protection or can’t be protected.

2- According to the Berne Convention, which the US didn’t actually agree to become a member country until 1989, you own any original creative work and automatically own the copyright unless you sign away that copyright to someone else, or you created that creative work under contract for someone else. Even if it contains a trademarked item, image, or phrase, you still automatically own the copyright to what you created, you just can’t use it for anything since someone else owns the trademark.

3- Facebook already has your written consent to use your updates and their content, you agreed to the Terms of Use/Service when you signed up for an account.

4- Facebook isn’t going to take any action against you unless you violate the the TOU/S that you agreed to when you signed up. What kind of action do you think they will actually do? Delete a post? Delete your account? While this may surprise some people, this is completely within their rights to do those things.

5- Nothing you post anywhere online is private and confidential, the very act of posting it online makes it public. Yes, you can control who can view your profile on Facebook with security settings, but that only applies to other users, not to Facebook or any of it’s partners. They can and will use anything you post in whatever way they want, you posting is what generates content, which generates information for them to use in order to market ads and products to you based on your interests and your friends interests.

6- This section I find incredibly funny. I am not 100% sure what they are referencing with the UCC, it could be either Universal Copyright Code or because the numbers don’t align with anything in the Universal Copyright Code it more likely is a reference to the Uniform Commercial Code, but even then, it doesn’t make any sense.

Sections it would be referencing in the Uniform Commercial Code.

§ 1-103. Construction of [Uniform Commercial Code] to Promote its Purposes and Policies: Applicability of Supplemental Principles of Law.

(a) [The Uniform Commercial Code] must be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes and policies, which are: (1) to simplify, clarify, and modernize the law governing commercial transactions; (2) to permit the continued expansion of commercial practices through custom, usage, and agreement of the parties; and (3) to make uniform the law among the various jurisdictions.

(b) Unless displaced by the particular provisions of [the Uniform Commercial Code], the principles of law and equity, including the law merchant and the law relative to capacity to contract, principal and agent, estoppel, fraud, misrepresentation, duress, coercion, mistake, bankruptcy, and other validating or invalidating cause supplement its provisions.

§ 1-308. Performance or Acceptance Under Reservation of Rights.

(a) A party that with explicit reservation of rights performs or promises performance or assents to performance in a manner demanded or offered by the other party does not thereby prejudice the rights reserved. Such words as “without prejudice,” “under protest,” or the like are sufficient.

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to an accord and satisfaction.

Neither of these means anything within the context of a posting on Facebook.

7- The Rome Statute – Sounds serious and intimidating and official right? Well, unless you think Facebook is committing a core international crime such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression, then you don’t have any claims under the Rome Statute. If you think that Facebook is committing any of these crimes by using your content, then you should go talk to a therapist first, you have some major issues to work through.

8- So Facebook is an open capital entity now, so they are a public company. This has no bearing on anything to do with any type of privacy or copyright.

9- The crème de la crème of this entire posting. This is an outright and blatant lie. You are in no way tacitly giving Facebook any kind of permission by not reposting this or any similar statement; You have already explicitly given Facebook the right to ” use elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates”. When you may ask? When you signed up and joined the site you gave them that permission.

This section from the terms that can’t be over-ridden by anything you post on your timeline – “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”.

To translate this for you in everyday language, “by posting anything on Facebook you give us the right to use it, give it to someone else to use, or sell it to someone else to use, anywhere in the world and we don’t have to pay you anything to do that.”

So let’s wrap up this with a simple explanation.

Anything you post on Facebook can be used by Facebook however they want. You have granted them the full right to use or license to someone else for them to use simply by using the site and giving them the pictures or status update content.

Everyone always thinks that Facebook is great because it’s free, but while it may not cost you any money, it is not even anywhere close to being “free” in any sense of the word. Facebook has you pay for it’s service and it’s features because you are paying for it with your information instead of cash money, Facebook then uses that information to make money, either through generating ad income because it can intelligently parse your posts and determine your interests, or by selling your information to other people to parse for their own purposes. The more information you give them through posts, responses, games played, applications used, people, products, companies, and posts “liked” then the more you are paying them for the use of their service.

Yes, you own the content, every social media site is always going to tell you that you own your content because you do, and they can’t usurp your right to own your content and intellectual property. The part they hide in all the long user agreements is the legal aspect that while you own the content/IP that you are posting, the fact you are posting it means you are licensing it to them for their own use and their own purposes.

If you or anyone you know really is concerned about your own privacy and don’t want your things used, then you should really just stop using Facebook, or any other social media site. Anything you post online should always be assumed to be in the public domain and visible to anyone and everyone, if you don’t want someone or anyone to know about it then don’t post it online, ANYWHERE. If you want to privately share something with someone else, then you should either call them on the phone, email them, or do the completely unthinkable thing in this day and age – TALK TO THEM FACE TO FACE.

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