Messages circulating on Facebook urge people to repost a “legal notice” to prevent the social media company from using their personal photos and information.
This chain letter is not new, but went viral in Hong Kong this July as the National Security Law sparked fresh concerns about information security.
The posts claim Facebook will update its Terms of Service “tomorrow,” granting the company the right to make public all your photos and posts, including those that are already deleted, and to use them against you in court.
The posts say that by reposting a “legal statement,” users can prevent Facebook from leaking their personal information and posted content. One version of these posts reads as follows:
Starting from tomorrow, Facebook will apply new rules. They will be allowed to use your photos even in lawsuits against you. From today on, all the content you post will become public, even items you already deleted.
With this statement, I hereby declare that I do not allow Facebook or any entities related to Facebook to leak, copy, distribute, or take any other actions with my information. All the content from this account is my personal and confidential information.
Facebook is now a public company, so every user has to post this statement at least once. If not, Facebook will automatically reserve the right to use your photos and other content.
The claim is false. Such statements do not have any legal effect.
The English version of this chain letter hoax was debunked several years ago by multiple fact-checking organizations including Snopes and Naked Security. Facebook also responded to the claim a year ago in their Help Community, explaining the message was a “likely a scam.”
In fact, users agree to Facebook’s Terms of Service when they sign up for an account.
If you have a Facebook account, you’ve already consented to their Terms of Service, and posting a general statement will not change this.
It’s worth noting that Facebook does have the right to use the content you publish, as mentioned in the chain letter. Upon signing up to the Terms of Service, you agree that when you post or upload media on Facebook, you grant Facebook the following:
“…a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings).”
This means that although you own the intellectual property rights to your content, Facebook is allowed to store, copy and share it with others consistent with your settings (i.e. with those you have already decided to share your content with).
Facebook’s Terms of Service also state the company is allowed to “share information with law enforcement or in response to legal requests.”