November 18, 2021

After Facebook announced that it changed its name to “Meta,” a refurbished rumor surfaced that claims the company can freely use people’s photos and messages.

“The new Facebook/Meta rule starts tomorrow where they can use your photos. Don’t forget the deadline is today! This could be used in lawsuits against you. Everything you’ve ever posted is posted today – even messages that have been deleted. It doesn’t cost anything, just copy and post, better than regretting later,” the warning message begins.

The second half then instructs people to post a legal notice telling Facebook it isn’t allowed to use their content:

Under UCC Law Sections 1-207, 1-308… I am imposing my Reservation of Rights…I DO NOT ALLOW Facebook/Meta or any other Facebook/Meta related person to use my photos, information, messages or messages, both in the past and in the future. This statement I inform Facebook/Meta that it is strictly prohibited to disclose, copy, distribute or take any other action against me based on this account and / or its contents. This account content is private and confidential information. Violation of my personal life may be punished by law.

We’ve seen these posts about fake social media rules before, and this one is just as wrong as the others that came before it.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat potential false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

There is no such rule change and posting a notice barring Facebook from implementing it doesn’t have any effect.

This online rumor first appeared in November 2012 when Facebook started trading publicly, and while the language is tweaked from earlier iterations, the message remains the same: Post this or else Facebook has control of your content.

But users cannot just undo the privacy or copyright terms they agreed to when they first signed up and made an account. As well, simply posting a notice will not have any impact on new policy changes.

Meanwhile, the company’s data policy and terms of service haven’t changed.

“The Facebook company is now Meta,” reads a disclaimer at the top of the company’s terms of service page. “While our company name is changing, we are continuing to offer the same products, including the Facebook app from Meta. Our Data Policy and Terms of Service remain in effect, and this name change does not affect how we use or share data.”

The website adds: “You own the intellectual property rights (things like copyright or trademarks) in any such content that you create and share on Facebook and the other Facebook Company Products you use. Nothing in these Terms takes away the rights you have to your own content. You are free to share your content with anyone else, wherever you want.”

While users own the rights to their content, they gave Facebook license to do certain things with that content when they signed up and agreed to the company’s terms of service:

When you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings).

But it isn’t so much status updates or photos that Facebook is necessarily interested in, it’s data. Facebook, as well as other websites, wants to know details like age, gender, marital status and general interests to help it better target advertisements to its users.

Our ruling

Social media posts claim that Facebook has a new rule that gives the company permission to use your photos and that posting a notice on your page will bar it from doing so.

This is an old hoax. There is no such rule change and posting a notice doesn’t override the company’s terms of use that users agree to when they sign up for an account.

We rate it Pants on Fire!

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.

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Samantha Putterman is a fact-checker for PolitiFact based in New York. Previously, she reported for the Bradenton Herald and the Tampa Bay Times. She is…
Samantha Putterman

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