If you’re on Facebook, you may have noticed a spate of copyright posts from users attempting to “reclaim” their personal details and photos. As we have noted in the past, this is unadulterated poppycock. Unfortunately, informing your friends of this fact is a good way to cause offence… unless you use humour.
For those who haven’t seen it, the latest false privacy notice doing the rounds on Facebook looks something like this:
As of January 3rd, 2015 at 11:43am Eastern standard time; I do NOT give Facebook or any entitles associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or post, both from the past, in the present, or in the future. By this statement I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute or take any other action against me based on this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and Rome statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version if you do not publish the statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE you MUST copy and paste this.
Even if you overlook the dodgy grammar, the above notice is entirely useless as a legal disclaimer. The terms and conditions of Facebook were agreed upon when you signed up to the service -- posting a “copyright notice” changes nothing. Instead, it just makes you look gullible and ill-informed. This is probably why people get so touchy when others attempt to point out the error in their ways.
Lifehacker’s Commercial Editor Rae Johnston leaned this to her chagrin after posting this gentle reminder on her Facebook page.
As you can see, the post was neutral in tone and directed at no one in particular. Nevertheless, it managed to generate a negative response; complete with insults and a Facebook unfollowing.
"I had someone respond that I was wrong, and they knew this, because they had a lawyer find out for them," Rae explained. "I politely suggested they get a second opinion as the advice the lawyer gave them was incorrect. I provided link to Snopes and quotes from the article to support my statement.
"They responded that they trusted this lawyer, who was a member of their family. Furthermore -- their judgement of me as a nice person seemed to be a mistake, as I clearly wasn’t one and they wouldn’t be following me on social media anymore as a result."
Evidently, people don’t like being told they are wrong, however politely.
Like Rae, I also wanted to inform my friends that their copyright posts were useless. However, I chose a slightly different approach. Instead of an FYI status update, I decided to indirectly poke fun at the practice (and myself in the process):
This allowed my friends to draw their own conclusions without feeling foolish or insulted. Nobody was telling them they were "wrong", but the underlying message was still there to be inferred. Those who remained unsure felt comfortable asking questions because they weren't already on the defensive.
The moral to the story is that there's always a way to get a message across without insulting your audience: even if the "insult" was caused by their own ignorance. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box.