Don’t fall for the Facebook privacy hoax

If you’re on Facebook, maybe you’ve seen the messages that supposedly protect your privacy and stops others from using your content without permission.

It doesn’t.

Facecrooks, a watchdog site, just published an alert about this hoax.

Here’s a variation of the bogus status message:

PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning – any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to my photos, and/or the comments made about my photos or any other “picture” art posted on my profile.

You are hereby notified that you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action against me with regard to this profile and the contents herein. The foregoing prohibitions also apply to your employee, agent, student or any personnel under your direction or control.

The contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law. UCC 1-103 1-308 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

The privacy notice is a hoax and does nothing to protect your privacy. Why?

“The use of and release of your personal data is governed by Facebook’s Data Use Policy and other policies you agreed to when you signed up for your Facebook account,” Facecrooks.com explained. “Simply posting a status update doesn’t supersede these documents.”

So, how do you protect your privacy? First, at a site you have already joined, use the privacy controls offered by the website to limit who can view your messages, profile, photographs and videos. Read the policies published by the website to learn about your rights and what information about you is collected, how long it is archived, and what other entities it is shared with.

To learn about your privacy rights and what Facebook collects, read the social networking sites Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, the Data Policy, and the Cookies Policy. To learn about upcoming policy changes, read the Facebook Site Governance page.

Read the policies before joining a website or service. If you disagree with the site’s policies, don’t join.

Finally, be aware of hoaxes and scams so you don’t become a victim. Besides Facecrooks.com, the Snopes.com site published a similar warning about the Facebook privacy hoax, but with a different message variation:

Due to the fact that Facebook has chosen to involve software that will allow the theft of my personal information, I state: at this date of January 4, 2015, in response to the new guidelines of Facebook, pursuant to articles L.111, 112 and 113 of the code of intellectual property, I declare that my rights are attached to all my personal data drawings, paintings, photos, video, texts etc. published on my profile and my page. For commercial use of the foregoing my written consent is required at all times.

Those who read this text can do a copy/paste on their Facebook wall. This will allow them to place themselves under the protection of copyright. By this statement, I tell Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, broadcast, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and or its content. The actions mentioned above also apply to employees, students, agents and or other personnel under the direction of Facebook.

The content of my profile contains private information. The violation of my privacy is punishable by law (UCC 1-308 1-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

These statements do nothing except remind users of how little privacy they have when they join Facebook. So, in a way, perhaps these hoaxes are providing a public service.

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About the Author
George Jenkins is a freelance writer and website usability design professional based in Boston, Massachusetts. He and his wife like to travel. They have sailed on 22 cruise ship vacations to various areas of the planet, including a Viking River Cruise in 2014 from Amsterdam to Budapest. A consumer advocate, George writes a blog for consumers about identity theft and privacy. When not writing, George practices T’ai Chi.
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