This post was originally published January 5, 2015, but this year’s second round of Facebook warnings are very similar, so everything still applies.

This week, you may have noticed a surge in Facebook friends posting an alarmist message on their walls insisting that they won’t give Facebook permission to use and distribute the content they post. The message is either the same or very similar to another viral copy-and-paste that has circulated on the social network for the past few years. It’s 2015, but there’s the same old complete misunderstanding of intellectual property law being spread around.

It’s not clear who first posted the viral message, but it has been around since at least 2012, and resurfaces whenever Facebook makes changes to is privacy policies (to be clear, Facebook has nothing to do with the message beyond providing a platform for it to spread). It’s a modern twist on the chain letter, exploiting privacy concerns.

Advertisement

The latest iteration of the message, sometimes prefaced by the poster with “Better safe than sorry” or a note that the person saw this on the news, goes like this:

As of January 3rd, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. Central standard time. I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute or take any other action against me based on this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and Rome statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish this statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE you MUST copy and paste this.... I will leave a comment so it will be easier to copy and paste!!!

OK. This statement contains so many wackadoo falsehoods of varying intensities that it’s hard to know where to start. That beginning:

Sponsored

I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future.

If you use Facebook, you absolutely give Facebook permission to distribute content you post. According to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, updated in 2013, you give the company “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.” Contrary to what this message insists, Facebook already has permission to use your pictures, information, and posts, both past and future.

If you delete something, the company can’t use it anymore... unless it has been shared by others. Facebook has built an umbrella of permissions with the explicit intention of using your photos, videos, and posts to promote itself. These are permissions you give upon signing up.

Posting that you do not give Facebook permission does not change the fact that, in using Facebook, you do. Facebook could even use the post you just made about how you don’t give it permission to use your posts. You can’t do retroactive, unilateral takebacks on a policy you agreed to when you signed up for Facebook just by posting something on Facebook. That’d be like yelling “We are divorced and our prenup is invalid!!!” through a loudspeaker at your spouse and expecting it to impact your legal marital status.

By this statement I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute or take any other action against me based on this profile is private and confidential information.

This sentence just straight up doesn’t make sense from a grammatical standpoint.

The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and Rome statute).

This is the most meaningless nugget in a cornucopia of dumb. UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) 1-308-11 308-103 has, as Snopes pointed out, “long been popular among conspiracy buffs who incorrectly maintain that citing it above your signature on an instrument will confer upon you the ability to invoke extraordinary legal rights.” Facebook taking advantage of the privacy terms users agree to when they sign up is not punishable by law.

The “Rome statute” refers to a statute of the International Criminal Court. It establishes genocide, war crimes, crimes of aggression, and crimes against humanity. It permits the ICC to prosecute these types of crime if the states involved are unwilling or unable to do so.

This means that this message suggests that Facebook exercising the permissions it has been given falls under the same jurisdiction as international genocide investigations. Coool.

NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity.

Nah. Facebook is a publicly traded company. A “public entity” is a governmental institution. Also what the fuck does it matter? Public entities can still do things you have given them permission to do.

All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish this statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE you MUST copy and paste this.... I will leave a comment so it will be easier to copy and paste!!!

Again, in no situation does a wall post on Facebook retroactively retract permissions granted to the company upon signing up for its services.

This is a viral hoax that achieves nothing other than letting you know who out of your Facebook friends really doesn’t understand what they’re agreeing to when they click “Yes” to sign up for stuff. The resurgence of the message highlights a continued lack of understanding about digital privacy and continued confusion about Facebook’s privacy policies. It also highlights Facebook’s ability to spread false information and useless word-sewage.

We’re never going to get to a point where every single grade-school acquaintance you see on Facebook stops posting this trash, even if Mark Zuckerberg went on a door-to-door information campaign. No matter how transparent a company’s policies are, there will always be people who just aren’t going to pay attention. But the persistence of these utterly off-mark rallying cries suggests that the company still has a lot of work to do to make its users understand even in a broad sense what permissions they grant while using Facebook and its burgeoning app family.

Don’t let the conspiracy theorists win. Don’t post that message.