Should Facebook Users Post “Privacy Notices”?

Once again, we’re seeing our Facebook friends repost “privacy notices” in status updates which purport to restrict Facebook’s use of the personal information, including photos, that they choose to include on their individual pages.   These Facebook notices, which are usually full of legalese, have proliferated over the years in different forms.  Last year, a version circulated in which the posters declared a personal “copyright” on the content of their Facebook pages.  Currently, a notice is popping up advising readers that Facebook is now a public entity, and stating that Facebook does not have permission to use the poster’s photos or information in the poster’s status update.   The notices usually encourage other Facebook users to repost the notice for their own protection.   

BLJ clients and others who read this blog need to know that these privacy notices do not provide Facebook users the protection they seek.  The terms of service that govern Facebook’s relationship with users, and to which all users agree when using Facebook, are contained in its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.  This can be found at  https://www.facebook.com/policies, or by clicking on “Terms” near the bottom of a user’s Profile or Home pages.  

The Statement of Rights and Responsibilities includes the user’s agreement that Facebook can collect and use content and information in accordance with its Data Policy, which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy.  

Users do not alter Facebook’s terms of service by posting privacy notices on their individual pages.  Instead of posting notices they don’t understand, or that contain dubious legal authority they have not read, users should review and understand the terms of service to which they agreed when they chose to use Facebook and other social media outlets.   If you have questions about the use of social media, lawyers at BLJ lawyers are available to provide further information and legal advice.  

By Melinda Thomas

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