Some Facebook users have been posting status updates that include legal language they believe will protect their copyright and privacy. The meme is a hoax that began in May and is going viral again.
Facebook’s actual governing documents, including its “Data Use Policy” and “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” are in fact up for review, but users’ status updates will not have an effect on the outcome or even on their own protection. By creating a Facebook account, users agree to the terms in the Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. They cannot deny these terms with a status update. Further, the meme going around now includes erroneous references to the Berne Convention, Uniform Commercial Code and the Rome Statute, as seen below.
It’s likely that most people posting these updates are not aware that they can view Facebook’s latest policies and offer feedback here. This is not surprising, but it should be concerning to Facebook. Despite its efforts, the social network is still not well-trusted by users and misinformation spreads faster than ever because of the features it developed. [Update 11/26/12 10:52 a.m. PST – Facebook responded with a “fact check” on its Newsroom site here.]
On Wednesday, Facebook proposed changes to its governing documents, including revisions that will allow the company to share information with affiliates like Instagram and put an end to site governance voting, among other more minor changes. The documents also include new language to help users understand their privacy settings and how Facebook advertising works. Users have until 9 a.m. PST on Nov. 28 to comment on the changes here.
More than 16,000 comments have already been made on the English language version, though most of them are variations of “I oppose the changes and want a vote about the demands on www.our-policy.org.” A number of users are also commenting with a variation of the bogus copyright notice.
Under Facebook’s current policy, when more than 7,000 comments are made on a proposal, the changes will be put to a vote. This is why so many users are copy-pasting the same comment repeatedly. However, results of the vote are only binding if at least 30 percent of users participate. Facebook is looking to eliminate this entire process in its latest revisions, saying it promotes quantity over quality feedback. The company will continue to put policy changes up for a review period when users can comment and ask questions, but there will no longer be a vote.
Visit Facebook’s Site Governance page for more information about the proposed changes and to leave your feedback.