The great Facebook hoax: Your content is not public property

There's a message that seems to have gone viral on Facebook and it seems to be around who owns the content you post on to Facebook. The message implies that since Facebook is now a publicly owned company anything that you as a user share on the site is public property and therefore open to commercial use.

Here's the message posted below for your benefit:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berne Convention).
For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright lawsBy the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook's direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates...

The message is clearly a hoax as Facebook going public doesn't mean that the copyright agreement earlier goes for a toss. As this article on Snopes points out that posting this message doesn't protect you and that earlier copyright and privacy agreements you've entered into with Facebook are not negated simply because it's a public trading company now.

As this article in CBSNews points out the fact is " that Facebook members own the intellectual property (IP) that is uploaded to the social network, but depending on their privacy and applications settings, users grant the social network "a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License)."

Also this agreement ends when you delete your account but the content shared by others in which you are tagged or mentioned stays online as their account is still active.

So what you do need to know is that your posts on Facebook are not always public. To know which post is public, look closely at the symbol that appears when you share a message, link or a photo. For instance if you see a tiny Globe next to your message it means you're sharing this with the public and not just your friends. This also means it's searchable on the web. This goes for photos, updates, links etc.

To change this click on the globe icon and change to just friends, or just yourself or customise to share it with a select few. Remember that sharing the above message won't really hide your Facebook content from the web, if your settings are public.

What you do need to worry about is that Facebook is changing e-governance on the site. For more details on that click here. If these changes go through Facebook users can no longer vote up or down any particular changes that might be proposed to the site. It had sent out an email to users about the same.

It seems Facebook is also going to review its 'data' use policy. The new changes will affect:

Getty Images

• New tools for managing your Facebook Messages – replacing the “Who can send you Facebook messages” setting with new filters for managing incoming messages.

• Changes to how we refer to certain products, like instant personalization.

• Reminders about what’s visible to other people on Facebook. For instance, when you hide things from your timeline, those posts are visible elsewhere, like in news feed, on other people’s timelines, or in search results.

• Tips on managing your timeline. For example, you can use tools on your timeline or activity log to delete your own posts, or you can ask someone else to delete a post in which you’re tagged.

It seems Facebook is also getting a Chief Privacy Officer to clear up privacy issues. According to TechCrunch, nearly 7000 users need to comment on the changes, or more than 300 million need to vote to block the issues.

For now the most common comment seems to be that people oppose the new data policy and want a discussion on

As far your content on Facebook is concerned, for now the 'friends only' setting should be good enough when you share something.

Published Date: Nov 26, 2012 12:59 pm | Updated Date: Nov 26, 2012 02:03 pm