Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Posting a notice on your Facebook wall will not protect your privacy rights (snopes.com)
154 points by recycleme 1841 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 84 comments

The fact is that I'm not sure that people totally believe what they are doing will hold up in a court of law. The thought that it might and it is so easy to do, coupled with the herd mentality (all of their friends are doing it), make posting something like this seem to have no downside, but only upside. After all, wouldn't you hate to be the one rube whose privacy is invaded because you didn't simply post something to your wall? To someone with little understanding of technology and law, it's like Pascal's Wager (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager), right?

Of course, my opinion of these friends of mine drops, but what do they care about that? :)

Your last point is actually quite alarming: I have often been told that in order to be successful, I should surround myself with people much smarter than I am. But, when I see all these Facebook notices and FREE $500 COSTCO GIFT CARD shares, I can't seem to shake the feeling that I have thus failed in life.

I get some of the weirdest Facebook posts from folks who I know are very smart--like professional musicians and Ph.D. researchers. They're very accomplished in their fields, but just haven't spend enough time online to develop "street smarts" about these things like we have.

The same is true for me, I don't use FB but I've seen over the shoulder of it being used by people who would be on my friends list should I use it.

These are often pretty smart people but they seem to mainly use FB for cat memes , pictures of food and the sort of "nerd humour" you might find on reddit.

"These are often pretty smart people but they seem to mainly use FB for cat memes , pictures of food and the sort of "nerd humour" you might find on reddit."

FB does not do very well for other purposes.

It's... complicated.

Just remember that you don't have to actually use Facebook. You merely need Facebook.

In other words, Facebook is your social network; it represents your circle of power. The more points you have on the circle, the more directions you can pivot in life.

For example, often times the people who are the least capable can still be an advantage to you; they will be loyal to you, and they will help you when you have no other options.

But, on the other hand -- you don't have to spend your time on Facebook. In other words, it's best to keep our identities as small as possible, so therefore it's a benefit to avoid making Facebook a part of our identity.

Is it necessary for friends to "be an advantage" to you besides just being your friends? When you spend a lot of time in places like HN, you're at risk of succumbing to some kind of extremist lifestyle where you have to rationalize even who your friends are or use dumbbells while you're brushing your teeth because it saves time. This is not necessary.

I have friends from way back that can't relate to what I'm doing and will probably never "help" me in any way. However, when I go back home, I greatly enjoy spending time with them and for me that enough.

Is it necessary for friends to "be an advantage" to you besides just being your friends?

No, not at at all. I just have no friends from my early days. (Ruthlessly bullied throughout school. Midwest children had no tolerance for programming geeks circa 2000.)

One of the primary ways people can find "you specifically" is through Facebook, and the other way is through LinkedIn. That's all I meant by "you need Facebook".

Recruiters, for example. I've gotten way more random LinkedIn offers that have led to jobs than I ever would've guessed. (~7 offers, 2 jobs. But of course the "offers" are just "offers to interview"; still, that's something.)

In my eyes, that's also a kind of help.

Also, it is good for open-mindedness when not all people we hang out with come from the same group.

That's the main reason I quit facebook. It made me think badly of people that I had fond memories of.

I'm up voting this because I feel similar. However, I'm not sure if I feel Facebook is the main issue at play.

It really is: before facebook, I wasn't exposed to every passing fancy or idea that these people had.

Within the contexts where I met and got to know these people, they are great. In angry political comments, or wallspam trying to get something or other banned, they are not. Facebook forced me to acknowledge that I like a bit of formality and artifice in my relationships with most people. I think that most people are more attractive with their clothes on.

I can't tell how serious you are, but if you're going to call a friend stupid just because he falls for online "scams" from time to time I don't think I would want to be friends with you.

That's pretty damn quick to judge. You have more experience with tech -- get over yourself. I'm sure they know things that you don't.

"Like if you support this child with cancer, keep scrolling if you want everyone them to die".


> Like if you support this child with cancer, keep scrolling if you want everyone them to die

Do any children still have cancer? I'm scrolling as fast as can!

That's an instant 'unfriend' for me.

It won't hold up. The disclaimer states Facebook has no distribution rights. Facebook requires the right to distribute your content. Common sense dictates you give Facebook this right when you use their service. The courts will laugh a disclaimer as the one in the hoax out.

[x]Only show important updates from this person.

This has solved all my problems with annoying updates

As a citizen of the EU and a country with strong privacy protection, my privacy rights are protected by law, and neither Facebook's terms nor the fact that any other entity can collect certain information from Facebook negates that right.

The claims by Snopes are equally false: whatever Facebook terms a user may have accepted whenever, they are trumped by the law. You can't give up your civil rights with single click.

> You can't give up your civil rights with single click.

Of course you can. Contracts can and do override a right enshrined in law. I can sign an agreement that gags me from talking about something, in which case I've given up my right to free speech (if you're in a country where such a right exists).

You seem to be referring to the EU's Data Protection and privacy policies - there are explicit exemptions under the EU/US Safe Habor (which applies here) that allow contractual opt-out from certain rights. I am not saying this is the case with Facebook: merely that it is naive to assume just because a right is enshrined in law doesn't mean you cannot give it up through a contract.

EULAs are "contracts of adhesion":


While they are not worthless, they are not nearly as binding or enforceable as your normal commercial contract. Standards vary and the jurisprudence is not clear, but indeed you "can't give up your civil rights with single click."

No, the fact that it is a contract of adhesion only goes to show that there was procedural unconscionability, you still need to prove that there is substantive unconscionability in order to show that the contract is unfair and therefore unenforceable. So yes, you can "give up your civil rights with single click." (At least as far as American law is concerned)

vavb: you appear to be hellbanned

I am from the US, and that is certainly not the case here. Contracts of adhesion are relatively weak here.

Let's have a bit of common sense here. 'Contracts override rights in law' is as wrong as 'Rights in law override contracts' (note that I'm not saying your comment said or implied that). Clearly, there are some regulations that you can contract out of. Equally clearly, there are some regulations that you can't. It's usually pretty clear which category any particular provision is in.

Example from the first category: "Unless a different intention appears from the terms of the contract, stipulations as to time of payment are not of the essence of a contract of sale" - s.10(1) SOGA1979.

Example from the second category: "A person cannot by reference to any contract term ... exclude or restrict his liability for death or personal injury resulting from negligence." - s.2(1) UCTA1979

A common pattern is to allow you to contract out of a provision in general, but not when you're dealing with a consumer, e.g. "In a case where the buyer deals as consumer ... subsections (1) to (3) above [which lay out default rules for the passing of risk, but can usually be overridden in the contract] must be ignored and the goods remain at the seller’s risk until they are delivered to the consumer" - SOGA1979 s.20(4). See also: the UTCCR1999, which applies only to consumer contracts and can't be contracted out of.

All examples from UK law. IANYAL.

For those of us who are not yet even studying law, SOGA1979 is the Sales of Goods Act 1979 and UCTA1979 is the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1979. There are also several ammendments that have been made to them more recently (if anyone else had heard of Sale of Goods Act 1995).

In most cases free speech is referring to the government attempting to restrict your speech, not a private entity.

But even then, if you sign a NDA (of which US federal employees often do) then you are not giving up your rights to free speech. You are promising to withhold information about a certain topic if someone not authorized to know such information asks. You can certainly exercise your right to free speech and tell that person what you know, but then you may face consequences for doing so.

> You can certainly exercise your right to free speech and tell that person what you know, but then you may face consequences for doing so.

I know what you meant, but the above statement is almost always true. An example of an abridgment of free speech would be: You say you hate the King, then you're put in jail. It's not free speech if there are consequences: the 1st amendment does not mean, "the government must refrain from cutting your tongues out," nor does it mean "you cannot willingly sign an agreement to withhold information with a private party", but it does mean "the government doesn't get to punish you for saying things it dislikes."

I suppose I did word that rather badly.

I would rather say that you can say whatever you wish, but you may face consequences based on what you said and the topic covered. I'm just trying to get across that too many people use "free speech", in US terms, incorrectly.

The government punishes people all the time for speech it "dislikes". Many people are in prison right now for that reason, usually because it involved people signing NDAs. Seems you have free speech in terms of unpopular speech aimed at the government as long as you didn't promise not to speak in the first place. Well, also as long as you don't say something the government doesn't want public; you know, national security and all that.

I would say that there are possible consequences to the concept that people label as "free speech", it's just that not all of them involve the government. Many people say things like "this forum mod deletes my posts, that violates my free speech" which in fact it does no such thing. You can criticize the government all you want but private entities can react to that as they please.

In other words, "free speech" is a very tricky thing.

Unless if the courts find the contract non binding.

The Snopes article refers to the forward which cites US law. It doesn't directly address the hoaxes abroad.

Unless you feel you can dispute it, the jurisdiction for your use of Facebook and the jurisdiction underwhich you agreed to use Facebook is Santa Clara County, Calfiornia, United States.

See 16.1 in https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms

Also, although the EU has strict data retention and data-export laws, you agreed to give up when you signed up for Facebook because Facebook keeps its data in the US.

Doesn't work like that.

Anyone outside the US and Canada is doing business with Facebook Ireland Limited. They are bound by Irish law.

According to Facebook.

Again, if local law (or a jury nulification) trumps this, FB are SOL.

Jury Nullification is a concept in criminal law, it has no basis in civil law under which this would be argued.

In civil law if the jury completely disregarded the facts / the law to the point that the judge believes that no reasonable jury could have reached the decision they did, the judge would be likely to enter a judgement not withstanding verdict whereby he or she basically says "I know what the jury said but they're wrong".


Thanks. I should've known that, really. Was looking for the civil equivalent of a finding for a party that would tend to go against the apparent legal facts of a case.

I'm not sure how much faith I put in juries, but sometimes they do the right thing.

I just posted the following: "I declare that facebook can use any of my stuff for any reason they stipulated in the terms of service I didn't read because I am too lazy. I fully recognize that posting a declaration of the opposite will have no actually effect on anything and that the only way for me to not have my privacy negatively impacted would be to stop using facebook. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen because google+ sucks just as bad and all my friends are on here, so long live network effects!"

[EDIT] I probably would have been more accurate to say google+ sucks just as bad with their TOS.

That little thing (sometimes huge thing) people put at the end of their emails that "this is confidential" is also pointless as you cannot enter into a confidentiality agreement that way.

That's an interesting point. A while ago I got an email that was clearly not intended for me with some big confidentiality warning on the bottom.

So I did as it said, deleted the email and informed the sender. Got a reply back saying "oh, sorry it was intended for xxx@xxx.com".

So then I get another one a few days later, this time I deleted it and forwarded it to the intended recipient. Then I informed the sender again getting no response.

Now about once a week I get this stuff into my account (which is basically a throwaway I hardly log into).

I assume I'm not expected to somehow play secretary for these people.

I get these too, except it's a cell phone bill for someone in Malaysia. I've tried repeatedly contacting someone at the company but all mails to them get returned as mailbox is full (it's 2012, how is anyone's mailbox full!?) and so they continue. I've even tried tweeting them but no luck. At this point I just mark it as spam, so sorry anyone in Malaysia that uses Celcom if your bills are going in to your spam folders.

Next reply you should ask for a raise?

Our in house council told us that the sad things about email disclaimers is that while they are useless in the sense that if you send it to someone by accident people can't be held accountable to what you put in it, they do have value.

Unfortunately due to the proliferation of these notices, if you don't include one then someone may have more legal leeway to do what they want with the email.

So its a sort of it's useless but if you don't put it in then it can hurt you a little more than if you don't, so let's just include it anyway.

It at least declares your intent for the message, which one presumably holds the copyright upon (although technically the company might own the copyright, I'm assuming that as the primary agent of the company in regard to that work, the author has some leeway). Unauthorized distribution of the mails would usually be a copyright violation, and excuses to the contrary can be negated by including a huge chunk of text that says "this must be private, seriously".

So yes, I see how it can help kind of but not really. It doesn't really change anything, just makes a case tighter should you need to make one, lest the defendant imply he had your authorization to distribute the mails.


You're wrong. (IANAL).

Let's say I'm a freelancer, and I enter into an NDA with company X. As part of the NDA, there is a definition of what exactly is the information that I need to keep confidential.

Now, my lawyers will push for a definition which is very specific and very explicit. How? They'll want Company X to mark every piece of confidential information with some kind of "confidential" mark. This way, I know explicitly about every piece of information that is supposed to be confidential.

Now, I'm guessing this is the same basic logic that big companies use when having this disclaimer. Anyone they've signed any kind of confidentiality agreement with might need to be explicitly told that this information is confidential.

This point still stands,

> you cannot enter into a confidentiality agreement that way

In your example, the confidentiality agreement (NDA) exists prior to the email.

Maybe it's for the company to enforce against the employee. It shows the employee is aware the information they are sending is confidential.

The way I've seen it done usually is that the mail server tacks on the confidentiality notice after the user sends the message. So they would see it on a reply, but never on the initial message.

Maybe other companies show it to you on compose, I'm not sure.

I wish people would stop. It means in business emails there's a huge load of quoted confidentiality disclaimer stuff.

Please people, 3-line signatures.

I've often wondered what the total size per year is for corporate email legal disclaimers, both bandwidth and residing on disk, world-wide. Personal signatures would be an interesting stat as well.

Does Exchange (or any other mail servers) have some sort of de-duplication process for intra-message text like this? The wasted space has to be enormous in aggregate, but maybe compared to headers, attachments, etc. it doesn't end up being that big of a deal, especially for a single organization.

Mailinator has deduplicating. In fact, it has all sorts of nice optimizations, and the author writes about it quite eloquently. I wish mailinator backend could be used for mail servers instead of Exchange ;)

The Snopes article also links to a page on a moonshine distillery website that claims to show you how to get diplomatic immunity: http://www.coppermoonshinestills.com/id53.html

Well worth reading for kicks, and reads more like a primer on how to make yourself a nuisance to local courts.

tl;dr You have to fill out some documents, notarize them, have state and federal judges sign them, and refuse any case you're involved in to be heard by magistrates in lower courts. In this way you'll be put on the "list" for diplomatic immunity although you are (presumably) not a diplomat. They even sell diplomatic corps car tags.

The legitimacy of the article is undermined by the fact that the author often spells "you" as "ya".

"have state and federal judges sign them"

Oh, is that all?

> a page on a moonshine distillery website that claims to show you how to get diplomatic immunity: http://www.coppermoonshinestills.com/id53.html

In 1995, someone might have put this into a science fiction book. (I mean, it theoretically could have happened. To my knowledge it didn't.)

Then everyone who heard of the book would have laughed. At the author. Because the whole idea is not just idiotic, but a kind of aggressive arm-swinging feces-flinging idiocy that can't possibly exist in real life.


It vaguely reminds me of this idiocy- http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Sovereign_citizen

It never works, but people do make a (likely not comfortable) living selling others on the dream.

This reminds me of the "No copyright intended" quote people would put on YouTube videos.

That phenomenon is actual quite interesting. It shows that lots of people have one view of what is right & wrong, and think that copyright is what they think is right. People think there is nothing wrong with uploading a video of them dancing in a funny way to a popular song if you don't claim the song is yours and youre not making money off it. Thus they think its not against copyright to do that.

The law has a different interpretation.

The fact that lots of people have a different interpretation of what counts as unethical use might mean the law will change

"The fact that lots of people have a different interpretation of what counts as unethical use might mean the law will change" -- we can dream, can't we?

But, you're right, in a perfect world, ethics and law would correspond. But, not in this world.

Every youtube video I saw with that notice was still online!

Survivor bias.

The terrible thing about this: it's the sign that users have absolutely zero clue about online privacy and facebook terms and conditions.

Some of my friends (and not the stupidest ones) posted this and really thought they were safe after that...

As written, the notice would forbid Facebook from even showing your posts and details to your friends.

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?"


Directly from newsroom.fb.com:

Copyright Meme Spreading on Facebook:

There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users' information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.


See also: No Copyright Intended


And when one side in a relationship is able to offer take-it-or-leave it terms which may change at any time without notice simply by being published on some arbitrary web page, but the other is not? Does this really meet conditions for a binding contract?

This is the third wave I've seen of this on facebook... at least it's better worded this time.

This pretty much proves what many of us knew: the average person has absolutely no idea about copyright or TOS agreements, and what rights they have or are signing away.

I think it proves that people will post any copy pasted message you ask them to. Its like those chain emails from back in the day except even more pointless.

True, I suppose people pasting the ridiculous chain letter style 'post this to 9 statuses tonight or u will hae bad luck for 10 weeks' posts don't necessarily believe they are averting poor fortune.

> HTTP Error 500-13 - Server too busy

Heh. Never had that before on snopes.com...

What is so disheartening about so many of my facebook contacts sharing this? That it is a simple manifestation of the power of herd mentality. You are talking about mature adults with not just children and property, but with degrees of higher education not adhering to the base principles of reason. If an "educated" person does not bother to verify perceived facts before acting on them, what other imbecile lemming behavior are they capable of? There truly are no innocents.

Random thought: When presented with a TOS to signup, if you could edit that TOS before clicking submit, is this similar to editing a contract before signing it?

If someone sent you a contract to sign, do you think you could scribble your own terms all over it and sign it and have that hold any weight? You can't unilaterally modify the terms of a contract, both parties have to sign and agree.

Right, which is why I'm asking what kind of limbo a modified TOS would place you in. Do they have to contact you directly agreeing to your modified version, and until then you're not allowed to use the service, even though you've been signed up?

And by the way, company x will not donate a dollar to this poor cancer suffering baby for every like the photo gets, Mr mamboto will not transfer 25 trillion dollars to your bank account, and the Microsoft lottery was already won by the early share holders. I don't know why but every time I see those statuses and chain emails (same thing really) I lose faith in the common sense of humanity...

So is "liking" something you don't -- intentionally corrupting their business (data) -- going to cause any repercussions?

Nope, as long as you post a magic disclaimer on your wall and also forward it to 20 friends. Shall you forget to forward it, very bad things will happen to you.

Sure. In publishing this would be called "increasing takeup," which allows them to be paid at a higher rate.

Isn't it funny how implied consent only seems to work in one direction?

You have the opportunity to read Facebook's privacy policy before consenting to it. Facebook does not have a similar opportunity to read your privacy notice before allowing you to post it to your wall. It happens automatically.

They have the ability to and that's a fact worth considering.

They also have the ability to hand deliver a big bag of cookies to your house. The problem is, it's expensive and doesn't scale to their 3 billion users (or whatever it is).

> Cancel your Facebook account. > (Note that in the last case, you may have already ceded some rights which you cannot necessarily reclaim by canceling your account.)

I forgot about that. :(

Not that the FB privacy disclaimer deals specifically with the copyright on deleted content. Specifically, you do rescind your license to FB by deleting content, but only if no references to it exist (i.e. it has not been reshared or all reshares of it have been deleted).

Facebook's response to the privacy notice: http://newsroom.fb.com/Fact-Check

As Dr. Watson once said - No Sh*t Sherlock.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact