The latest Facebook privacy hoax is upon us. They seem to surface every year or two. And one is back, today. Like a bag of microwave popcorn, it starts with a few pops here and there before building to a rapid fire crescendo. You probably started seeing the hyper-technical posts earlier today - one here and one there. And now, it seems like everyone is posting a disclaimer trying to assert some claim of privacy on their Facebook profile. Here's the language of today's version:
As of September 27th , 2015 at 10:50p.m. Eastern 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 and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the 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 If you do not publish a statement atleast once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates.
Some updates begin with an ambiguous reference to this being reported on Channel 4 or Channel 13 and a disclaimer, "I don't know if this is real, but better safe than sorry." It's not real. It's a hoax. A couple of 14 year-olds in Kalamazoo are probably having a great laugh at the viral spread of their message.
The problem is that the hoax, while not malicious, does lull posters into a false sense of security. Posting this disclaimer is meaningless. Facebook's Terms of Service are what govern the use of information and photographs. To control who can see them and how they can be used, a Facebook user must access the Facebook privacy settings page and make appropriate selections.
Today's hoax reinforces the uncertainty of life on the internet, and the vulnerability users feel as they curate their online, social media lives. Protecting your privacy is important and should be a focus of any online experiences, but don't fall victim to this official, if very weird, language. The Rome Statute?...sure, it's a thing, but it's not anything that bears on Facebook and the use of your selfies.