Fact Check

Does 'New Facebook/Meta Rule' Permit Company To Use Your Photos?

We've seen at least a dozen variants of this copypasta rumor go viral over the past decade.

Published Nov. 15, 2021

SPAIN - 2021/10/30: In this photo illustration a Meta logo seen displayed on a smartphone with a Facebook logo in the background. (Photo Illustration by Thiago Prudencio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) (Thiago Prudencio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Image courtesy of Thiago Prudencio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
A new Facebook/Meta rule allows the company to use your photos without permission, and posting a legal notice on your page will prevent it from doing so.

In November 2021, a copypasta post claiming that a new "Facebook/Meta rule" allows Facebook (lately renamed "Meta") to use members' photographs without their permission circulated widely on that platform. The post included a block of legalese citing supposed Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) statutes that allow users to impose a "Reservation of Rights" preventing Facebook and Meta from using or distributing such materials:

The new Facebook/Meta rule starts tomorrow where they can use your photos. Don't forget the deadline is today! This could be used in lawsuits against you. Everything you've ever posted is posted today - even messages that have been deleted. It doesn't cost anything, just copy and post, better than regretting later.

Under UCC Law Sections 1-207, 1-308... I am imposing my Reservation of Rights...

I DO NOT ALLOW Facebook/Meta or any other Facebook/Meta related person to use my photos, information, messages or messages, both in the past and in the future. This statement I inform Facebook/Meta that it is strictly prohibited to disclose, copy, distribute or take any other action against me based on this account and / or its contents. This account content is private and confidential information. Violation of my personal life may be punished by law.

NOTE: Facebook/Meta is now a public organization. All participants should post a note like this.

If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you don't publish a discharge at least once, you'll automatically allow the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in your account status updates. NOT ′′ share ′′ but ′′ copy + paste "!

Their new algorithm is chosen by the same people - about 25 who will read your posts.

Hold your finger anywhere in this post and a copy will appear. Click on Copy. Then go to your page, start a new post and place your finger in an empty field. ′′ Insert ′′ will appear and you will click on it. This will pass the system.

I'm not giving Facebook/Meta permission to share my information posted on their website. PHOTOS, CURRENT or PAST, PUBLICATION, PHONE NUMBER OR POST... Absolutely nothing can be used in any form without my written permission.

This was yet another variation of a familiar Facebook copypasta text, which we identified as false in June 2012.

Learn more: What Is Copypasta?

We rate the newer variation false as well, given that it is simply a slight rewrite of the older version and promulgates the same misinformation. Facebook (Meta) has not instituted or announced any "new rule" that changes the conditions under which it may use members' content. In its current (as of Nov. 15, 2021) Terms of Service statement, Facebook (Meta) notes that:

The Facebook company is now Meta. While our company name is changing, we are continuing to offer the same products, including the Facebook app from Meta. Our Data Policy and Terms of Service remain in effect, and this name change does not affect how we use or share data.

That same terms of service statement includes two important (though not new) declarations all users need be aware of. Essentially, although users own the intellectual property rights to the content they create and share, when they agree to the company's terms of service by using the service, and depending on their selection of privacy settings for their account, they also grant Facebook (Meta) a license to do certain things with that content:

  • "You own the intellectual property rights (things like copyright or trademarks) in any such content that you create and share on Facebook and the other Facebook Company Products you use. Nothing in these Terms takes away the rights you have to your own content. You are free to share your content with anyone else, wherever you want."
  • "Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings)."

As noted by an attorney and social media expert in a 2012 ABC News report we quoted in our previous coverage, posting a boilerplate legal notice on one's Facebook page is "useless":

Brad Shear, a Washington-area attorney and blogger who is an expert on social media, said the message [that Facebook users are posting to their walls is] “misleading and not true.” He said that when you agree to Facebook’s terms of use you provide Facebook a “non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any content you post. You do not need to make any declarations about copyright issues since the law already protects you. The privacy declaration [in this message] is worthless and does not mean anything.”

Have you seen other variations of this claim? Let us know.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.

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