Friends, friends, friends. For the umpteenth time in as many years, I’m seeing this language over and over again in my Facebook feed:
An attorney advised us to post this. Good enough for me. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you do not publish a statement at least once, it will be tacitly understood that you are allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in your profile status updates. I HEREBY STATE THAT I DO NOT GIVE MY PERMISSION.
I’ve seen this ridiculous language so much that I’ve decided to publicly shout that THIS ISN’T A THING! I also want to explain line-by-line why this status that won’t seem to die is just……ridiculous.
“An attorney advised us to post this. Good enough for me. ” This just can’t be correct, for a number of reasons. First of all, did an attorney really advise you to post this? Did you ask one?? If you had asked me I wouldn’t have given you clearance, because in the words of Donald J. Trump, this is just #WRONG. If an attorney told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it? Just because someone went to law school for three years, that doesn’t mean ANY SINGLE SOLITARY PIECE OF ADVICE THEY GIVE YOU should be “good enough” to blindly follow. At minimum, Google whatever your issue is first so you have some frame of reference for whether or not they are right. This is generally a good idea IMO, whether it be a Facebook status or your criminal trial. Speaking of crime and punishment, on to the next sentence…
“The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute).” I don’t even understand this sentence. First, UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 literally does not exist. While the UCC is a thing – the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC for short) is a law that applies to sales and commercial transactions – there is no section with that long, gobbledygook of a number. There is a UCC 1-308, but as I’ll address later, it doesn’t reserve any privacy rights you might have. In fact, the UCC doesn’t cover privacy law at all.
Second, the Rome Statute is an international agreement between countries that creates four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. Your Facebook account, in and of itself, ain’t an international crime. Equally as important is the fact that the United States hasn’t even ratified the Rome Statute, meaning it doesn’t apply to people in the United States.
In addition, you can only have a right of privacy in one of two contexts. (1) Under the US Constitution, you (probably) have the right to privacy against government intrusion, though Facebook is not the government, so this is irrelevant. (2) Under your state’s law, you mayhave a right of privacy (not all states apply the same rules or have the same rights), but it only exists in one of four situations: intrusion of solitude, public disclosure of private facts, false light, and/or appropriation/publicity rights. While there could exist a situation in the universe where your privacy rights are violated by a corporate entity like Facebook, you’ll have to meet highly-specific requirements (that, again, cannot be punished under the aforementioned real and fake laws).
“NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity.” This literally doesn’t matter. Whatever you agree or disagree with, Facebook’s status as a publicly traded company (meaning that the general public can buy shares of stock in it) has nothing to do with anything.
Yes, Facebook is collecting tons of data about you, and it may even be sharing your info with companies that assist police surveillance programs and target protesters of color generally and #BlackLivesMatter activists specifically. But, you cannot get out of these contracts just by posting a status to your Facebook account. These agreements are highly restrictive and probably bad for society in general, but the law, at least right now, doesn’t give us any good answers on how to save ourselves from them if we aren’t strong enough to resist social media.
This is where UCC 1-308 comes in. In very, very general terms, the law states that when you enter a contract, if you don’t know that you’re losing certain rights, you can’t be forced to perform under that contract. But, you can’t get out of a contract that is legally binding. This sounds simple, but it is highly unlikely that this law would apply to you. This usually applies to debt and contract performance issues, not social media terms.
- delete your Facebook account;
- negotiate for better terms with Facebook (insert laughing emoji here);
- never sign up for a Facebook account; or
- petition Facebook to change its policy.
Sorry to pee in your kool-aid, but nearly all of the “COPY AND PASTE THIS AS A STATUS OR FACEBOOK WILL XYZ” posts are hoaxes designed to….do I don’t know what (perhaps laugh at unwitting strangers on the Internet?). The next time you see one, however, do know that your repost isn’t gonna save you.