Google Review

Facebook Privacy Notice – Fiction or Reality?

Woman in cafe using her touchpadEvery now and then someone posts a status update on his Facebook page that basically asserts his rights to his own content.  Some of the posts may include language such as:

I assert all intellectual property rights to my Facebook data under articles L 111, 112 and 113. I declare these rights to apply to posts, photographs, drawings and personal data.”

By this declaration, Facebook is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, broadcast any data from my profile or my content.”

And in some cases, there is a warning as well. 

Warning – to any person or agency, including the United States Federal Government, or anyone monitoring this website, you are strictly forbidden from disseminating, copying, taking or using any content on my site.  ALL COPYRIGHTS AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS RESERVED.

This sounds like a good plan – right? What you post should be yours to do with as you wish.  No one else should be using your content or your pictures.  The reality is that these Facebook privacy notices mean absolutely nothing and are not legally binding.

Where did this come from?

No one really knows who first started the threads, but they started popping up shortly after Facebook became a private company. There seems to be a surge of privacy postings after any major news announcement regarding government intrusion into private business and after every Facebook privacy update.

The whole purpose behind these types of posts is to assert a person’s right to their own content.  Certainly, nobody wants to post a picture of their child only to find some big business has snatched it up and is using it to sell their product, but trying to protect your content with a status update does you no good.

So – who owns your content?

The simple answer is: you do, of course.  When you signed up for Facebook, you agreed to their Terms of Service and Data Use Policy, even if you didn’t read them.  The current Terms of Service do acknowledge that you, as the poster, own copyrights to your data, content and pictures.  For many reasons, this is unlikely to change.

As part of their Data Use Policy, you are introduced to the Privacy Settings.  If you have your posts and pictures set up as public, pretty much anybody in the world can see it.  That doesn’t mean they can legally use it – you still own the copyrights to your own content.  However, it’s difficult to enforce your copy rights if you don’t know who’s looking at (and possibly stealing) your data or pictures.

Bottom line:  Take some time to properly manage your Privacy Settings.  Keep it as limited as feasibly possible to make sure that your content remains private.