Phillip Sternitzke | @PSpepper
When it comes to Facebook, various things get passed around like nothing else. Videos, photos, memes, challenges, and anything else a user can imagine. Something that makes the rounds every so often is a post that usually starts with, “On MM/DD/YYYY, Facebook will be changing their terms of service to….” And then it continues saying something like “I do not give Facebook permission to use my likeness or access my personal information.”
First of all, a status update on a user’s profile will accomplish nothing. Every year, a hoax like this goes around Facebook and causes millions of people to repost it over and over again. But this has no legal standing regarding the terms and services, and is meant just as a goof.
Facebook does update their terms of service periodically and this includes new legal standings meant to protect the company and inform the consumers. If users do not agree with the company’s TOS, they simply cannot use the site. When a user creates a Facebook account, accepting the Terms of Service is required to access the site. So whenever FB updates the TOS, users are automatically grandfathered in.
If Facebook wants to use a user’s likeness or personal information, and they are not directly breaking any laws in the process while also informing their consumers in their TOS, they are welcome to. There is no way to stop Facebook from using information that users post to their site. If privacy is a concern, there are some steps a user can take to protect oneself. Users are allowed to change the account privacy settings, specifying who can view or share their content, as well as seeing any of their personal info. There are no options beyond that except deleting the individual's account.
We live in an age where nothing is private. The general public has access to a variety of personal information, even the things we try our hardest to keep private. This is likely why people copy and paste the “I do not give Facebook permission” post. Even if the users are often doubtful, they post anyways in the hopes that things they publicly post can remain private. While it may not be the most harmful thing in the world, it gets people riled up every year and is nothing more than a waste of time.
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