Remember those paragraph-long Facebook notices which warned that the company is about to reveal your images, video, and messages? They’re back… But, if you missed this the first, second, or third time around, here’s what you need to know about this hoax.
To start with, there is absolutely no truth to these posts at all. They are a complete hoax, and you should just ignore them. Facebook has been dealing with this hoax as far back as 2012 and talked about it in a fact-checking blog post.
What is this hoax all about?
The text of the hoax posts is about privacy on Facebook and what the company can do with your content.
The most common of these hoaxes cites the law “UTC 1-308-11308-103” and the Rome Statute as a way to defend yourself against Facebook. However, this is not what the Rome Statute was designed to do; it’s something completely different. Set up by the International Criminal Court, it deals with genocide and crimes against humanity, not privacy concerns.
The hoax privacy message
Here’s what the hoax posts say:
Facebook’s terms of service
While the hoax urges you as a Facebook user to copy and paste this message to your profile, don’t. There is absolutely no law which can override Facebook’s terms of service because you accept them when using its service. However, Facebook has come out in favor of its users, saying:
“This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information can be shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.”
Also the company has a statement of rights and responsibilities, in which it states that content published using the “public” setting will allow anyone to see them. However, if this setting is switched to “private,” the rules on who can access it are much different.
Additionally, you should be aware that while Facebook does value your privacy, it can and has amended its terms of service before.
During 2015, two very similar hoaxes to the one above popped up on Facebook, again causing fear that a user’s data would become public if they did not copy/paste the status. One of these false statements claimed to be a legally-binding message which could protect photos and profile details. However, this one isn’t so new because it has popped up previously, as early as 2012.
One of these hoax posts stated:
“As of September 28th, 2015 at 10:50 p.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 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 at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates.”
Monthly subscription hoax
One bad attempt to frighten Facebook users into handing over real money appeared in the U.K. Apparently, if a user agreed to sign up for a £5.99 monthly subscription, their posts would remain private. Obviously, this fake offer was not taken up by many. However, some users did succumb to it and handed over their money. It’s thought that this hoax/con has been around since 2011.
Here’s the hoax message:
“Now it’s official! Published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: £5.99 ($9.10) to keep the subscription of your status to be set to “private.” If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (I said paste not share) if not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even deleted messages or the photos not allowed. After all, it does not cost anything for a simple copy and paste.”
If you’ve come across and posted any of the hoaxes, it’s a good idea to delete them from your profile and advise your friends and family about them too. After all, you wouldn’t any anyone handing over money to a scammer if you could prevent it.