Tech & The Web

Facebook Users Fooled By Privacy Hoax

You’ve probably seen the warning more than once in your Facebook feed: a stern message designed to scare off the government so it won’t browse your profile for “incriminating” information.

Apparently, a series of emails are making the rounds with the silly claim that because Facebook is now a publicly-traded company, all of your profile information must now be public, too.  Why anyone would think that the two have anything to do with each other boggles the mind, except for the unfortunate fact that anytime anyone uses the words Facebook and privacy in the same sentence, people drop what they’re doing and are ready to believe the worst.

If you haven’t seen the warning, you probably will, but in the meantime, here’s what it says:

“*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 photo`s or any other “picture” art posted on my profile. You are hereby notified that you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action against me with regard to this profile and the contents herein. The foregoing prohibitions also apply to your employee(s), agent(s), student(s) or any personnel under your direction or control. The contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law. UCC 1-103 1-308 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.”

You have to admit that it looks official with that citation of the Universal Commercial Code (UCC) at the end of the message. If it’s got a real-life law there, then it must be true, right?


The Universal Commercial Code has nothing — nada, zip — to do with privacy or social networking. They would’ve accomplished just as much if they listed the section of law that pertains to jaywalking in their local municipality.

Then there’s the more important fact that if you’re a Facebook user, you’ve already agreed to privacy rules that you don’t have the authority to change in the middle of the game.

No, really: you did agree. You can’t have a Facebook account without first accepting the terms of service and its privacy policy. And once you do that, you’re following their rules. Don’t like it? Then go play in someone else’s sandbox. Or go create your own social networking site that everyone can love to hate.

But don’t waste your time trying to post a useless warning intended to someone who can’t even see your profile if your privacy settings are set the way they should be.

And I offer one last piece of common sense on this issue: no one can use something incriminating on your profile against you if you don’t post it to begin with.

It makes me wonder what these people have on their timeline that suddenly has them in such a panic. Maybe it’s time to plunder for something juicy that they don’t want us to know about!


  1. Now wait just one minute here.  You mean to tell me that I need to actually be cognizant of the fact that anything I post on Facebook could come back to haunt me?  Can you seriously be implying that putting something out there for hundreds of millions of users to see could somehow compromise my privacy?
    You have GOT to be kidding me!  Now that just takes all the fun out of Facebook.  I may as well close the account now…after I post some official-looking jibberish citing codes on my timeline of course!

    1.  @Hammond Exactly, Jeff.  My mom REFUSES to even consider Facebook, because she “doesn’t want everyone to know her business.”  I keep telling her that “everyone” will only know whatever of her business she actually chooses to post, but I haven’t been able to convince her of that fact.  I somehow think I never will!

  2. I received a similar email that looked like an official Facebook email, but when I did a mouse over on the link, it had a foreign domain address… Danger Will Roberson! Danger!
    That is something that I always do before I click on a link, the domain name for most U.S. companies will end in .com, if it ends in .ru, beware it is from a Russian domain.

    1.  @DianaCT Thanks, Diana…that is an excellent point. Once in a while, it won’t show you the exact link, or it’ll try to disguise the link so you don’t see the domain.  I don’t click on those, either.

  3. Heh. I just saw one of these this morning. I don’t understand why people don’t do some research before believing things like this.

    1.  @Cathryn (aka Strange) We get so many emails into the newsroom from people forwarding those spam pieces over and over again…it’s SO easy to look up things like that on or other “mythbusting” sites, but so fer are willing to make the effort.

      1.  @patricksplace When I see something like this or any questionable email, I’m in the habit of looking them up on Snopes or other sites.  If they are misleading, I’ll forward a link to the Snopes article to the person who sent the email.  
        I’m not sure that this results in any of them actually adopting the practice of looking them up themselves, unfortunately.  I think it does cause them to remove me from their list of people they send this junk to, however, so at least I don’t have to see them in my inbox.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.