Your Facebook "Privacy Notice" Is Unenforceable Nonsense

Illustration for article titled Your Facebook "Privacy Notice" Is Unenforceable Nonsense

If you have a Facebook account, you've likely seen your dull friends post some version of a "privacy notice" there recently. The idea is that posting it as your status will somehow prevent Facebook from, well, doing the things Facebook does with your information. It's nonsense. Don't be that person.


Here's the dumb block of text that's spreading like a bad rash on Facebook, typically accompanied by a plea to repost because the rules are different now that Facebook is publicly traded.

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


This is the online equivalent of wearing a "no fat chicks" t-shirt, and is just as enforceable. You might as well post a status update that Facebook owes you a gazillion dollars and a bigger penis for all the good it will do.

Your interactions with Facebook are governed by an agreement you previously made, that both parties entered into—even if you didn't read it. When you signed up with Facebook, you agreed to its terms of service. If you've been there for a while, you've even agreed to new terms as they've been updated over the years. That doesn't change because Facebook is a public company, and it doesn't change because you post some dumb crap on your timeline. It changes when Facebook offers new terms, and you accept them either by explicit agreement or your continued presence there.

Facebook is rapidly becoming the new email from old people. The only difference between this and spreading urban legends via email is that you're hitting share instead of forward. Just as with any email that urges you to forward it to 100 of your closest friends, any scary Facebook status update you see that begs you to repost it to your timeline is almost certainly completely bogus.


Come on, people. We already did this dance once before. Do we really have to start bookmarking Snopes again?



I don't know where the idea comes from that it is to stop Facebook doing anything with your data. It seems to be more concerned with government judging from the wording of it. Of course Facebook don't have to pay any attention to it, the T&Cs cover anything they would want to do and also take precedence. It does provide a useful statement to show any outside bodies how you feel about such uses of your data. Believe it or not most organisations in government and law can often take the view that you are perfectly ok with having your information abused if you don't post a notice saying so.

An example of a direct analogue to this in England is the 'Trespassers will be Prosecuted' sign. Trespassers will not be prosecuted as trespass is not a crime. However that wording is believed by a lot of people posting or reading it. I suppose it is more effective than a sign saying 'Trespassers will be told to bugger off'.

A big point with your data on Facebook is that if anyone was to use if for monitoring you or whatever how would you know anyway. If you did know then would you be likely to spend a fortune trying to take it through the courts? If you did take it to court what would be the point? With no damage you are not going to get damages. Also if anyone was to try and do anything with your data that you did know about then you would have copyrights that protect you from any unauthorised exploitation of your photos or updates, etc.

Does anyone know why it references the UCC? I read those particular sections and could see no purpose to referencing them at the end whatsoever. Perhaps I am reading the wrong UCC but they certainly seemed to have those section numbers and they were not quotes.