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Facebook privacy: Will posting certain language “protect” you? Absolutely not.

by | Sep 29, 2015 | Criminal Defense |


It’s back again. Every now and again people will start posting on their Facebook page “magic language” that will supposedly preserve their privacy and copyright all of their personal data. You may have seen something like this recently:

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 September 29, 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.

Let this be absolutely clear: this is complete nonsense. Posting an alleged “legal notice,” or anything on Facebook for matter has absolutely no legal effect. I’m not even going to get into the UCC citations. Facebook is not a proper forum for effectuating any kind of legal service. Procedures as to notice and service are governed by the rules of civil procedure.

Posting this language on Facebook is like pasting your photographs all over your car and then driving around town screaming that no one has a copyright over your photos and they need to respect your privacy. People may not believe you’re entirely sane, let alone somehow giving sufficient legal notice… of whatever it is you are claiming. Facebook isn’t claiming any copyright over your personal information. And as far as privacy is concerned, you have the complete power over your information and with whom you want to share. And this is probably the bigger problem. Why are you expecting any privacy on Facebook in the first place?

No one should expect any privacy on Facebook. Even if you limit your audience to just your “Friends,” any of those friends can download your photos, screenshot your posts, and do with them as they please. They can share anything you’ve posted to their own Friends, which probably include people you don’t even know. Once you put something out there on the internet, it is fair game. I would be less afraid of Facebook using my profile photo in an advertisement than I would about someone using my Facebook posts in a lawsuit. Practically speaking here, the only time Facebook posts or photos are going to mean anything is when they’re used against you as exhibits in a trial.

I’ve see Facebook photos and posts used in lawsuits regularly: photographs of people using illicit drugs, photographs of people working out despite claiming a back injury, posts about their new car when they’re claiming they didn’t have any money to pay child support. And lets say you are involved in a criminal investigation and decide to delete all your posts: you could be looking at a destruction of evidence charge.

Be smart. A lot of people have Facebook and it is easy to feel like you are somehow entitled to your privacy. But remember, you’re using a service. Nothing is free. Posting “magic language” doesn’t do anything. If you want privacy, don’t post anything to Facebook that you wouldn’t want a Judge to see.