Mythbusting: Facebook and hoaxes

Mythbusting: Facebook and hoaxes

It’s something that happens quite regularly on social media. Your Facebook news feed suddenly starts filling up with the same viral, boilerplate post and before you know it, you’re sucked in too.

Over the past few days and weeks there have been two such chain letters floating around on the popular social media platform: one warning users to post a kind of legal notice to their timeline to protect their copyright or privacy rights; the other claiming that Facebook is about to impose a paid premium service.

Both are hoaxes.

In fact, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was so enraged by this latest spate of pernicious chain letters that he held a feisty media conference on 29 September 2015 to appeal to users to stop being so gullible.

Behind the “Privacy Notice” hoax

This hoax has been circulated several times over, and every time it sucks people in. It advises users to post a “Privacy Notice” to their timeline as a means of preventing the public use of the material they post. The latest version goes something like this:

Channel 13 News was just talking about this change in Facebook’s privacy policy. Better safe than sorry. As of September 28, 2015 at 12:30p.m. Eastern Standard times, 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/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-30801 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 If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE. You MUST copy and paste.

The thing is, your legal rights are determined not by any one status post, but rather by the social network’s Terms of Service, which you agree to when you create an account. The best way to protect your information is by adjusting your privacy settings, both on your mobile app and on desktop.

Behind the “Premium Service” hoax

This hoax claims that Facebook is about to introduce a premium service that would require a monthly subscription. The gist of it is that if you don’t sign up to the service, you’d have all your photos sold to unscrupulous third parties. And the solution? Post a status on Facebook saying you don’t agree to these terms.

Clearly this was the final straw for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who ranted at a recent press conference, “Do you people even read this crap before you copy and paste it? Or does it just punch your moron button hard enough to get a reaction?”

Again, if you’re concerned about privacy, adjust your settings.

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