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Facebook privacy settings hoax resurfaces again

08 Nov 2016

A Facebook privacy settings hoax that has been around since at least 2012 has resurfaced, claiming that private photographs and messages are going to be made public.

The message urges Facebook users to copy and paste a warning to their walls to protect their private photos and messages.

The text reads:

“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 If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates.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. Copy and paste.” 

When the hoax first emerged four years ago, Facebook responded by describing the hoax as a “rumor”.

“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 is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been …”

Despite this, the message, in various incarnations, has remained in circulation. It’s unknown why its has gained traction once again.

As Bradley Shear, an attorney specializing in social media, explained, when you agree to Facebook’s terms of use you give a “non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any content you post”.

“You do not need to make any declarations about copyright issues since the law already protects you,” he added. “The privacy declaration [in this message] is worthless and does not mean anything.”

Facebook users who ‘paste’ the message to their walls are unaware of the damage they can cause. The spread of a false message can waste time and mislead unwary users.

It is also apparent that many users on the site have not read their privacy settings, simply copying the message onto their wall to ensure they are protecting themselves.

Article by Narinder Pruba, ESET

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