A viral post claims that Facebook recently updated its terms of service to take ownership of all of your personal data — even if you delete your account. By copying and pasting that legal mumbo jumbo into a status update, you supposedly exempt yourself from Facebook’s new guidelines.
Except that’s not the case. You can’t protect yourself from a site’s terms of service by claiming to be exempt — you agree to the terms by signing up for an account.
But, more importantly, Facebook doesn’t claim to own your data. You own it. The whole thing is a big hoax.
According to Internet rumor repository Snopes.com, the Facebook hoax has been around since 2012. CNN wrote about it then, too — and it has cropped up every now and again over the past several years.
In fact, Facebook commented on the hoax in a 2012 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. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms.”
Here’s language from Facebook’s actual terms of service: “You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.” That should settle things for you.
One of the reasons the hoax has stayed active for so long is that it gets recirculated through likes, appearing in people’s newsfeeds. It also strikes a chord with people who feel like they have lost control of their privacy online.
In case you haven’t yet come across it, here’s the Facebook post that has been making the rounds:
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 5, 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).
Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are invited to publish a notice of this kind, or if they prefer, you can copy and paste this version.
If you have not published this statement at least once, you tacitly allow the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in the profile update.