Misguided Facebook Posts - Who owns what on your Facebook account?

Over the past couple of weeks, we have noticed that a number of Facebook users have been posting the following on their newsfeeds:

"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 [sic] Convention). Written consent is required for the commercial use of the above at all times.

I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents…

…All Facebook members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates."

While this isn't the first time this post (or at least something similar) has been doing the rounds, it may interest readers to learn that these posts do not have any effect on your contractual relationship with Facebook, Inc.

When you sign up to Facebook, you agree to Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. This forms part of your contract with Facebook, Inc. for your use of the site. These terms apply equally to businesses that promote their brand via Facebook, as they do to individual users of Facebook.

Facebook's terms specify that "You own all of the content and information you use on Facebook". However, until you delete your account, users grant to Facebook, Inc. a "non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide licence to use any intellectual property content that you post on Facebook".

In other words, while you keep ownership of all your photos, status updates, illustrations etc., until you delete your account, Facebook, Inc. can do just about anything it likes with them after you have uploaded them to your account.

In theory, a variation of the contract with Facebook, Inc. could take place if a user brought its post to the attention of Facebook, Inc. and if Facebook, Inc. agreed that the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities was varied (i.e. between that user and Facebook, Inc.) in accordance with the terms of the user's post. However, this is extremely unlikely to happen.

Short of leaving Facebook altogether, nothing you say or post on Facebook can change the terms you agreed to when you signed up in the first place.

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