Published November 26, 2012
A Facebook user edits privacy settings. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)
A message has been spreading like news of a sale on Cyber Monday: Post a few lines to your Facebook page and you’ll protect your copyright and privacy rights against “changes” to the site’s policy.
And it’s completely bogus, experts said Monday.
The message, which you may have seen posted to the billion-strong Facebook user community by one of your friends, advises you to post a few lines of text to your Facebook wall to protect your copyright online:
In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, paintings, writing, publications, photos and videos, etc. (as a results of the Berner Convention.)
For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times. (Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws.)
There is no “Berner” Convention — although the “Berne” Convention does protect literary works — and Facebook doesn’t own your data, company spokesman Andrew Noyes told FoxNews.com.
‘Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post.’
“There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false,” reads an explanation posted on the company’s website. “Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.”
Sascha Segan from PCMag.com agreed; a few words on a wall won’t affect much of anything.
“Posting mystical copyright mantras on Facebook is meaningless. No shibboleth can reverse or alter Facebook’s terms of service unilaterally,” he wrote on the social network.
Indeed, this latest message isn’t even a new one. The exact same fraudulent bit of information popped up earlier this year. Yet the demand for information about this message is so great that the Snopes.com site, which exposes online scams, has buckled under it, briefly returning error messages rather than information.
The privacy message has probably resurfaced in relation to the real news that Facebook is proposing to end its practice of letting users vote on changes to its privacy policies, though it will continue to let users comment on proposed updates.
The world’s biggest social media company said in a blog post last week that its voting mechanism, which is triggered only if enough people comment on proposed changes, has become a system that emphasizes quantity of responses over quality of discussion. Users tend to leave one or two-word comments objecting to changes instead of more in-depth responses.
That news is legit. But protecting your privacy by posting a few words online? It’s not quite that simple.
“If you are posting about copyright on Facebook and you haven’t done your research you are an idiot,” tech pundit Robert Scoble wrote recently.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.