Not This Again…

…or why your Facebook pics are safe!.


A few friends of mine posted this on Facebook recently:

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 that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and 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 If you do not publish this statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE. You MUST copy and paste to make this your status.

The general gist seems to be, “Facebook can’t steal my stuff because I posted this notice”. This is a repeat of something that sprung up about 2 years ago, around the time Facebook became a Publicly Traded Company in the US. A lot of people have been quite curt in telling people that this is completely pointless and unnecassary. But, being a Law Student, I can’t help but go through exactly why you don’t need to worry about such things. So here we go:

1) I do NOT give Facebook, or any entities associated with Facebook, permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future.
“Any entities associated with Facebook” could be anyone. I am an entity associated with Facebook in as much as I use it. So this person is stopping (or at least intending to stop) their Facebook friends from using their pictures or posts, possibly including commenting on them – so it seems that Facebook just got a lot less social.
Also the phrase “…past and future…” excludes the present, which is just a mess.

2) By this statement I give notice to Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile is private and confidential information.
Firstly, “By this statement” nothing changes. When you sign-up to Facebook you agree to the terms of service and this is a from of contract. All contracts are formed on the basis on mutual agreement, i.e. both sides agree to the same thing. This can only be changed by both sides agreeing to the change. One party declaring that the other can’t do something any more (especially when it was explicitly agreed in Section 2 of the Terms of Service).
Secondly, if Facebook can’t “disclose” anything on your profile, they can’t show anything you post. Once again, to ‘social’ side of social media is a little less present. As for what “other action” Facebook could take against you is anyone’s guess.

3) The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and Rome statute).
This parts almost right, The violation of privacy is punishable by law. In Europe, the Right to Private and Family Life is protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is, however, not punishable under the UCC (the Uniform Commercial Code). Article 1-308 is about reservation of rights, but is only a statement that if you say you don’t want to do something, but do it anyway, the other side can’t make you do it again.
At least the UCC is in the same general area as the claim. The Rome Statute has absolutely nothing to do with companies or privacy, but if Facebook ever commits genocide, let me know.

4) Facebook if now a Public Entity.
This is absolutely right. Facebook is a publicly traded company. You can even buy shares in it should you be so inclined. But it doesn’t change any of its responsibilities to its users.

 5) If you do not publish this statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as information contained in the profile status updates.
As I said above this is completely incorrect, but I couldn’t resist pointing out that (if this were a real thing) you would be “tacitly allowing” Facebook to use your stuff, not “tactically allowing” them to. There’s no strategy involved here.

6) DO NOT SHARE. You MUST copy and paste to make this your status.
As I hope I’ve established…no you don’t.

The law is often seen as a confusing thing that no-one, not even lawyers, can understand. Sometimes people think its best to just go out on a limb and see what happens. And that’s not their fault. It lawyers’ fault that its not explained well and widely enough. Hopefully that can be something that can be changed in the future. Maybe.

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