Facebook copyright concerns result of a hoax

Facebook Changes?

The social media giant says no. Image: Cleveredfool.com/Flickr/CC BY

For all those concerned about the copyright status of material they post on Facebook, it is time to exhale. The social media giant has debunked recent rumors as a hoax.

Who owns material posted on Facebook?

A chain post went viral on Facebook Monday Nov. 26, saying that users need to proclaim the copyright of the material they post on the social media engine, lest Facebook nefariously claim it as its own.

Many users, taken in by the pseudo-legalese, posted a status update which started with the following: “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).”

But in fact, Facebook has not recently updated the copyright clauses of its user agreement. Nor is there anything called the “Berner” convention. That is likely a truncated misspelling of the The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which  set copyright standards at the end of the 19th century and is irrelevant here.

User terms of agreement

Facebook users already have the rights to original material they post, as outlined in the user terms of agreement all users must sign on to use the social media platform.

The hoax disclaimer goes on to say, “For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!”

However, all users of Facebook have already checked the user terms of agreement, giving the social media Gargantua permission to make money off of their posts. Therefore, the hoax provision is meaningless.

In other words, it is Facebook’s platform and Facebook’s rules. Play by them or delete your account. But you still own the material you originate.

However, that is not to be confused with holding a copyright on said material. Copyright is a legal protection against plagiarism facilitated through the Library of Congress.

Facebook responds to hoax

Facebook has responded with its own statement. It said, “There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false. 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.”

Not its first appearance

Like many of these cyber hoaxes, the so-called “chain letter hoax” has been around before and will no doubt resurface again at some point. The Facebook copyright notice hoax last made the rounds in May and June.



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