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Facebook, take note!

Jonny Evans | Jan. 23, 2015
Those copyright notices that people are posting on their Facebook pages don’t mean a thing legally, but that doesn’t mean Facebook, or the media, should ignore them

In the last few weeks it's possible some of your Facebook chums posted messages on their walls in which they tried to revoke permission for the social network to use and distribute content they post.

"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 Berner Convention)."

Often, you'll see people commenting on these notices, saying things like, "This doesn't mean a thing," "This has no legal significance," "You're wasting your time" and "This is another hoax." All of which is true enough, except possibly the part about it being a waste of time. I say this because, as an expression of what people want, perhaps Facebook -- and the media -- should be paying attention.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men."

When it comes to these attempts at controlling the rights to personal content claimed by Facebook, the frequency and wide use of these posts are evidence that millions are demanding a chance to reach a new deal with the service. They want to limit what Facebook can do with their personal information, and what on earth is wrong with that?

Why should this vast corporation be able to decide what it does with your digital life? Things have moved on and a new service agreement is being demanded by millions of users who feel that the complex umbrella of Facebook's legal protection is subsuming their individual rights.

They want to be heard in their demand that Facebook should not be free to share posts they create that are then shared by a friend for the rest of time, even if they delete their account.

You'd imagine that a desire like this, shared by millions, would merit a little media coverage, perhaps along the lines of "Millions demand new Facebook privacy deal."

That's not what we've seen. Instead we've seen the media publish numerous stories pointing out that these posts have no legal significance at all, that they don't work and that users shouldn't be posting these pesky statements. Some of these reports come across as scolding.

"You should take no notice of these posts, they do absolutely nothing," Marie Brewis, managing editor of PC Advisor, told the BBC. "It doesn't matter what you put on your profile, you have already signed up to Facebook's terms and if Facebook was going to change its terms and conditions it would tell people."

"We're never going to get to a point where every single school acquaintance you see on Facebook stops posting this trash, even if Mark Zuckerberg went on a door-to-door information campaign," writes Gizmodo.


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