Viral Facebook posts misinform about data

John Kurecki, Features Reporter

Recently a viral message, both in the form of a text post and an image, has been passed around Facebook timelines all over. The comment or image involves the poster claiming that they deny Facebook the right to use the poster’s data, images, or intellectual property.

But, despite the message’s claims, simply posting this does not protect the user from anything and should not be considered legally binding.

When creating an account, users are automatically agreeing to the small text above the sign up button, which states, “By clicking Sign Up, you agree to our Terms and that you have read our Data Policy, including our Cookie Use.”

Users cannot both disagree with these items and have a Facebook account at the same time, proving any claims otherwise to be untrue.

This is not the first instance of these false viral postings. There have been multiple waves reported on by various news organizations over the last several years, ranging back to 2012.

Facebook does not lay claim to any intellectual property posted by its users. The Statement of Rights and Responsibilities reads, “You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.”

By posting the content, the user grants Facebook a temporary license to use it until the account or content has been deleted and any shared versions of the content have also been deleted. Upon deletion, the content may remain on backup copies that are unavailable to the public for “a reasonable period of time.”

The Facebook data policy, which outlines how Facebook uses the data of its users, covers topics including what is collected, how and where it is used, and what steps users can take to manage the data Facebook collects about them.

On the collection of a user’s data, the policy explains, “We collect content and other information you provide when you use our Services, including when you sign up for an account, create or share, and message or communicate with others.”

The policy also states that Facebook aggregates information regarding networks and connections, payments, and information about websites that use Facebook’s services. The policy states that, for example, Facebook collects information when a user logs in to another website via Facebook.

This information, of course, is used both to improve the Facebook experience and to target advertisements.

Facebook points out that, because of this data, “We are able to deliver our Services, personalize content, and make suggestions for you by using this information to understand how you use and interact with our Services and the people or things you’re connected to and interested in on and off our Services.”

Regarding advertising, the policy claims that Facebook also uses the data they collect to improve their advertising by curating which advertisements a user sees.

Facebook shares this data with third parties, and writes, “[W]e use all of the information we have about you to show you relevant ads. We do not share information that personally identifies you…with advertising, measurement or analytics partners unless you give us permission.”

Information which personally identifies users can include an email address, name, physical address, and other such items. Instead, Facebook provides aggregated data about how advertisements perform in given demographics.

Concerned users can view data Facebook has collected on them by using the “Download Your Information tool” that they provide, which allows a user to see exactly how much data about them is on Facebook.

Users may delete their accounts, which will delete the account’s postings, photos and status updates, but information shared about them, such as by friends and family, is untouched.