The (Newest) Facebook Hoax: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

by Jordan Richardson on November 28, 2012

Anyone with a significant body of friends on Facebook has probably been subjected to the latest round of Facebook privacy scares over the last couple of days. The fun took the form of yet another hoax on the social networking site. This was similar to another privacy notice hoax that circulated in June of 2012 and was simply a reworded version of that long-debunked bit of claptrap.

For the few uninitiated, the hoax comes in the form of a stream of text that starts on the foundation that Facebook is now a public entity. The deceptions start after that, with the post exposing that Facebook has “new guidelines” and “hereby declaring” that all of the poster’s “personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, photos, and videos, etc.” are now under copyright.

The post refers to the Berner Convention, an apparent misprint that’s probably supposed to reference the Berne Convention, an international agreement that does actually refer to copyrighting. One problem: the aforementioned convention took place in 1886. It’s true that the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty was put in place in 1996 (effective March of 2002), but that’s not mentioned in the Facebook scrawl.

Then comes the rather panicky line, complete with exclamation point: “For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!”

Bull.

The hoax meanders on through more legalese, including a mention of the Rome Statute (of the International Criminal Court) and the usual bungled code-dropping of UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103. The latter is a garbled pile of legalese that turns up nothing, but it’s probably a reference to the more clarified June version of the hoax. That one referenced UCC 1-103 1-308, a reference to the Uniform Commercial Code that means…nothing.

The fact of the matter is that hoaxes like these spread like wildfire because many people don’t question, like, anything. Despite seeing corrections and posts clarifying the hoax as a hoax, many Facebook users insisted on being “better safe than sorry” and posted the deceptive text anyway.

The truth is that Facebook users own the intellectual property that they upload to the site, but they also own responsibility over their privacy settings. In using these settings and signing up to Facebook in the first place, which requires agreement to the Terms of Service (somebody should really read those someday), users grant Facebook what’s known as a non-transferrable, sub-licensable, royalty free license (worldwide) to use any intellectual property posted on or even in connection to Facebook.

So, about that whole “written consent” thing? Facebook users have already granted it via signing the Terms of Service and the subsequent privacy policy and legal terms of use. Oops.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSSTwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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