Like most people, I woke up today and almost immediately went on Facebook (at least I get to say it’s part of my job). Upon doing so, I was greeted with about a dozen posts from various people that were essentially all the same: legal jargon about privacy as a response to Facebook’s announcement that its users will no longer have a vote when it comes to changes made to the site. Given the way that Facebook tends to fiddle with this policy every so often, generally as a means of extracting information from its users to sell to potential advertisers, it’s a reasonable response to try and shield yourself from these changes by posting an extremely legal sounding disclaimer warning against such actions. Here’s a bit of one of the posts flying around Facebook today:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details contained in my personal and business profiles, including, but not limited to: all postings, status updates, comments, illustrations, paintings, drawings, art, photographs, music, videos, etc. as per the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, (a/k/a the Berne Convention). For commercial use of any of the above, my written consent is required in each instance and at all times.

Or this one:

PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning – any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to my photos, and/or the comments made about my photos or any other “picture” art posted on my profile.

Unfortunately, as many of the more cynical readers out there will have guessed, neither of these posts will actually amount to anything. The reason is simple: by using Facebook, you’ve already provided consent for the site to do exactly that, and have waived all rights to the contrary. While you still technically own anything you post to Facebook, it’s impossible to ban it from use by Facebook or any other outlet that may view it due to the Terms of Use policy you agreed to on signing up without ever actually reading, specifically the part about how agreeing to the policy gives Facebook “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).”

Although you may have even signed the policy years ago, the policy itself states that it is amenable, so continued use of the site counts as consent itself. Simply by sharing anything on Facebook constitutes permission for them to access it and use it. The only way to stop letting Facebook and its advertisers get a peek at your private life is to stop using Facebook entirely, no exceptions.

Bottom-line: leave legal jargon to the lawyers next time.