A viral post claims that Facebook (, Tech30) recently updated its terms of service to take ownership of all of your personal data — even if you delete your account. By copying and pasting that legal mumbo jumbo into a status update, you supposedly exempt yourself from Facebook’s new
Except that’s not the case. You can’t protect yourself from a site’s terms of service by claiming to be exempt — you agree to the terms by signing up for an account.
But, more importantly, Facebook doesn’t claim to own your data. You own it. The whole thing is a big hoax.
According to Internet rumor repository Snopes.com, the Facebook hoax has been around since 2012. CNN wrote about it then, too — and it has cropped up every now and again over the past several years.
In fact, Facebook commented on the hoax in a 2012 post: “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.”
Here’s language from Facebook’s actual terms of service: “You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.” That should settle things for you.
One of the reasons the hoax has stayed active for so long is that it gets recirculated through likes, appearing in people’s newsfeeds. It also strikes a chord with people who feel like they have lost control of their privacy online.