Alexandra Tselios

About Alexandra Tselios

Founder and CEO of The Big Smoke, Alexandra oversees the leading digital content platform in both Australia and the USA. As a social and technology commentator, she is interviewed most days of the week on radio and appears on ABC's The Drum and ABC News24. Alexandra is also a Director of NFP think tank, Plus61J, which explores the political and social ties between Australia and Israel; and sits on the board of Estate-Planning FinTech start-up NowSorted.

You’re a goose if you post a privacy disclaimer on Facebook

TBS Publisher Alexandra Tselios takes apart the “protect your privacy” status update floating around Facebook…OK, Editor PB might – just might – have been one of the geese she’s talking about….sssshhhhh…


Here we are again – 2015 is reminding me of 2012, my newsfeed filling up with this gem of a status update:

Better safe than sorry right. Channel 13 news was just talking about this change in Facebook’s privacy policy. Better safe than sorry. As of January 3rd, 2015 at 11:43am Eastern standard time; I do NOT give Facebook or any entitles associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or post, both from the past, in the present, or in the future. By this statement I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute or take any other action against me based on this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and Rome statute). 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 If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version if you do not publish the statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE you MUST copy and paste this. I will leave a comment so it will be easier to copy and paste!!!

First of all, you don’t need to go to law school to know that just stating something as fact does not negate a binding contract, nor does it put the other party in a position of violating the law if none were actually broken. For example, you can’t steal someone’s wallet, but then hand them a post-it note saying, “I do NOT give the police or any entities associated permission to arrest me. Stealing wallets is NOT a crime and here is some random statute because I didn’t bother Googling any of this.”

Your status update is not legally binding in any way – it will just make those who have thought it through (or remember 2012) giggle a bit.

Let’s break it down:

Channel 13 news was just talking about this change in Facebook’s privacy policy

Most media outlets discuss Facebook and related privacy concerns, TBS has discussed this and even Facebook notified all users, but that has nothing to do with validating an idea that a status update overrides a legal agreement. This is inserted to make the paragraph seem credible and is akin to saying “Cats are the best because Today Tonight discussed cats once.” You would have seen the notification of privacy changes when you logged in. It was before the notification that someone liked your cat video.

I do NOT give Facebook or any entities permission to use my stuff…

You see, when a product like Facebook is FREE for users, that generally means the business model is likely centred around advertising. How does a business become valuable to advertisers? By providing more comprehensive data on the audience they are trying to reach. So, Facebook need to use information about you and your online activities, and probably a lot more in detail than you would like to think. Regardless of whether you like it or not, you agree to the terms of service when you use the website and by your continual use of the site, you are accepting these conditions.

Just for the record though, Facebook states that you own your intellectual property and are simply granting them the licence, which ends when you delete the data and/or account, and if what you are posting has the public setting, they are quite within their rights according to the current privacy notice.

Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this

So? Facebook having publicly traded stock has absolutely nothing to do with the licence you agreed to – a non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, worldwide license that can only end when you delete the information. Irrelevant, and I wish I had bought shares.

Now for my favourite part of the statement…

The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and Rome statute)

Referencing a Universal Commercial Code sure does sound impressive, but it’s totally unrelated to privacy laws (check it out here) and citing this provision does not release you from the agreement explained in the clear terms listed on the site.

Also unrelated, is including the “Rome Statute.” The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction exclusively relating to the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. It has absolutely nothing to do with intellectual property laws or copyright laws unless you consider Facebook an “attack directed against any civilian population.” Which is silly. You can read up all about the Rome Statute here and you will find it has nothing to do with your data use agreement. Both the UCC and the inclusion of a statute are only inserted to make the statement seem legitimate to those who can’t or won’t take two seconds to Google legal terminology.

Basically, posting this statement on your wall does not put you in a position to negotiate your terms of service, privacy or copyright. If it did, I would have posted years ago about how “the City of Sydney CANNOT give me another parking ticket again in the present or in the future because of an arbitrary statute somewhere in Bora Bora.”

The Facebook terms are clearly defined on the site and often updated, so it’s in your best interest to understand what is being used, why and how, rather than react to alarmist status updates that don’t even make any sense.

The one good thing that has come out of all this is I get to re-post this video from 2012.


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