‘Facebook Privacy Guidelines’ Wall Post Is A Hoax: How To Actually Protect Content


Since Facebook proposed guideline changes recently, wall posts declaring that you can forbid Facebook from using your content for other (legal) purposes have been catching viral. You might have seen one. It looks something like this:

But don’t get taken in, dear readers. Alas, this statement is completely and utterly false for several reasons. The idea is that you would re-post this incredibly legal-looking blurb to your page, and somehow the folks at Facebook would then add you to some kind of “protected content” list and not use your page for any other purpose by law. But unfortunately, it’s a wild rumor being busted by Snopes and Hoax-Slayer (confirmed by NextBigWhat).

Hoax-Slayer sums it up nicely:

[quote type=”large” align=”left”] The message is utter nonsense. The supposed “Privacy Notice” has no legal standing of any kind and posting it on Facebook will do nothing whatsoever to protect the privacy of users. Re-posting this message will do nothing other than spread misinformation and clutter Facebook with even more pointless garbage. [/quote]

Facebook lists in their Data Use Policy the ability to unilaterally use photos posted to your profile for ad stuff (industry term). This is why, awkwardly, pictures of your girlfriend could end up on a singles/dating service ad (don’t laugh, this has happened to me before). You still own your content, no matter what. It might seem unfair that Facebook can use your pictures for targeted ads, but there are a couple of things you actually can do that will protect your content.

The simplest thing you can do is update your privacy settings. Setting photos or other content to private (i.e. – only your friends can see it) protects it from Facebook, but if you’re putting things out there for the general public, there’s not much you can do to stop Facebook or anyone else from “borrowing” it. You can remove the content altogether which prevents Facebook from using it further, or you can try to negotiate a modified privacy policy with Facebook themselves (good luck with that).

Of course, there’s always the simplest, most direct move: Cancel your account outright or never sign up for one in the first place. Don’t forget that you agree to the terms of service when you sign up (that tl;dr stuff every site makes you read before they give you access) and that you still have some measure of control once you sign up.

Use the tools at your disposal and don’t fall for this “Facebook Privacy Guidelines” post, because it isn’t legally enforceable and your friends will make fun of you.


Dusten Carlson
Dusten has written for web and print and currently spends his time working on his upcoming graphic novel. He is also almost 30 and still has all of his hair.

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