The Facebook privacy meme: is it really protecting copyrights?

Glenn W. Peterson

It’s back. That pesky copy and pasted post announcing – in a rather legal sounding manner – that the user is prohibiting Facebook from using their private information without their consent. Other than clogging up your newsfeed, the message is raising questions about what we post to the social media site and whether or not we have any protected right to it once it gets put on the Internet. It’s out of this fear that thousands of people have copy and pasted the post to their own feeds in hopes of providing themselves with some form of legal protection.

But is reposting this seemingly authoritative message really providing users with increased copyright protection? Sadly, no. Much like its predecessors, the current repost operates under the assumption that Facebook wants to own the material you post to its site. As the company explains though, what people post to Facebook is theirs and theirs alone. Facebook does not control the content or information – the user does.

So why do reposted messages such as this keep cropping up? Because they play on two key factors: a person’s fear of losing their privacy rights and their limited understanding of the law. As many of our more frequent readers know, contract law can be incredibly complicated with copyright law only meeting it in complexity. When the two combine, the need for skilled legal representation rises as they are likely the ones who will understand the law the best.

While reposting what appears to be a legal claim may not provide users with further copyright protections, talking to a lawyer can. A skilled intellectual property attorney can explain what rights you do have and whether or not they are being infringed upon. They can also advise you on any legal remedies you can take and what damages you can seek, which is not something the Facebook repost can do.

Sources: Think Progress, “Privacy Is Dead Anyway, Long Live The Facebook Copyright Hoax,” Jessica Goldstein, Oct. 1, 2015

Business Insider, “This Facebook ‘privacy notice’ is a hoax, and you shouldn’t bother sharing it,” Maya Kosoff, Sept. 29, 2015