A Facebook hoax has, yet again, monopolized Facebook status updates, as panicked users have been advised, by the hoax, to declare copyright in response to Facebook privacy changes. Of course, if simply declaring something on your Facebook status made it so, then the color of your bra strap would have cured breast cancer, Casey Anthony would have been found guilty, and a simple relationship status change from “married” to “divorced” would save thousands in lawyer fees.
But that has not stopped Facebook users from their hasty proclamations, with this message being posted Facebook-wide:
“In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, graphics, comics, paintings, photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berne Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times! Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws.”
This reminds of the episode of The Office, where lead character Michael Scott decides to declare bankruptcy, and does so by shouting, “I declare bankruptcy!!!!”
Sadly, the declaration of copyright on one’s Facebook status holds about as much weight as Michael Scott’s declaration of bankruptcy. Here’s the thing, as long as you’re posting on Facebook, you’re bound to whatever policies they put forward. Simply disagreeing, and even disavowing, these policies does nothing to change the policy, or protect you from it. Think of it this way: are multi-million dollar companies really that careless that they’d build those businesses upon policies that can be so easily changed by their users?
Lomnitzer goes on to say that the best way to ensure that your work is not infringed upon is to get a copyright from the U.S. Copyright Office. Outside of that? If you don’t want it infringed upon, don’t post it on Facebook, it is that simple. Further, if you see another privacy scare floating around Facebook, you may just want to hit up Google and do a search to see if it is legitimate before posting it on your Facebook page. Your Aunt Sue in Des Moines is probably not the best authority on Facebook privacy issues.