Our Facebook newsfeeds are full of friends posting a cut-and-paste status update that claims to protect users' privacy and copyright from the company. It's awesome to see how many people care about their privacy rights.

So does posting a notice on your Facebook page protect your privacy? 

Short answer: Nope.

Why not?

When you created a user profile on Facebook, you agreed to the company's terms of service. By using the service, you've already agreed to allow Facebook to use your intellectual property (your updates, photos, and other stuff). Specifically, you still retain your copyright, but you grant Facebook a license to use and display that content until you delete it.

Basically, it's like you signed a contract: you can't change that contract with a status update. 

But I care about my privacy! What can I do?

Four things: 

  • Know what you're agreeing to when using online services. When you're signing up for an online service, take a second to read the terms of service before you click "accept." You can check out Facebook's terms of service here.

  • Don't post it. If you're truly committed to retaining your rights and privacy, know that the only absolute protection is to opt-out. Don't sign up for an account or don't post your content. 

  • Demand your dotRights. For those of us who just can't give up our love of posting photos of our cats but still value our privacy, join the movement to urge Facebook and other social media companies to respect their user's rights by putting our content under our control. 

  • Share the correct information. If you're still using Facebook, share this image to make sure your friends have all the facts about their privacy. 

Don't despair. One simple post won't fix all our digital privacy problems, but with informed users demanding their dotRights and pushing for greater control, we'll continue moving towards real control of your personal information online.