The Only Way to Decline Facebook’s ToS Is by Not Using It

In response to Facebook's announcement of an updated Terms of Service, some users have updated their statuses with a useless legal disclaimer.

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terms of service

Facebook recently announced that it was updating its Terms of Service along with a Privacy Basics presentation. Many of the settings in the presentation were already included in Facebook functionality, so perhaps the idea is to demystify the privacy settings which have confused many users.

In response to the update, users have been updating their statuses with a legal notice:

facebook_legal_notice

The hoax status seems to make the rounds every time there’s a change in Facebook’s privacy policy. As our sister site AllFacebook points out, similar status updates also went viral when Facebook went public.

The common misconception is that Facebook takes ownership of your content once you post it. The Terms of Service state that users own their content, but grant the site license to use it. Here’s the kicker: By posting content and using the service, you are agreeing to these terms. Just posting a notice with legal language doesn’t retroactively negate the privacy and copyright terms agreed to by use of the service.

That’s just not how the law works, according to Snopes.

Any copyright or privacy agreements users of Facebook have entered into with that company prior to its becoming a publicly traded company or changing its policies remain in effect: they are neither diminished nor enhanced by Facebook’s public status.

Before you can use Facebook, you must agree to its various legal terms. If you do not want to agree, Snopes says you have several options:

  • Decline to sign up for a Facebook account.
  • Bilaterally negotiate a modified policy with Facebook.
  • Lobby for Facebook to amend its policies through its Facebook Site Governance section.
  • Cancel your Facebook account.

Unfortunately, if you’ve already created an account, used the service and decided to cancel the account, that doesn’t mean you can reclaim the rights you ceded when agreeing to use the service.