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Facebook privacy: posting your own legal notices is 'meaningless', says expert

Facebook users are posting notices on their timelines trying to protect their personal data - but they have no legal merit, says CBC's technology columnist Dan Misener.

Facebook users posting notices on their timeline to try to protect their personal information

Facebook's privacy policy is something you agree to when you sign up for the service - and no legal notice posted on your timeline can change that, says the CBC's technology columnist. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

Facebook users may have seen a flurry of "legal notices"  popping up on their Facebook feed lately, notices they are encouraged to post on their timeline to protect their personal information.

The notices often begin like this: "Due to the fact that Facebook has chosen to involve software that will allow the theft of my personal information..."

But according to CBC's technology columnist Dan Misener, who spoke to Stephen Quinn on CBC's On The Coastthere is no legal merit to these notices, and they are in fact "meaningless."

"The legal terms of your relationship with Facebook are set by the terms of service and the data use policy that you agreed to when you first signed up," said Misener.

"You can't just decide on your own to change those by copying and pasting something on your timeline."

Over the last couple of months, Facebook has been notifying users of terms of service changes that will go into effect in January.

Misener said these kind of notices often pop up whenever Facebook makes changes to its privacy policy and compared the posts to a chain letter.

"[They] play into our fears and anxiety about privacy," he said. "Rather than propagating a myth, direct your energy towards learning about these documents you've already agreed to."

Misener said that if you're concerned about your online privacy, learn more about Facebook's actual stance on privacy.

He recommends two websites you can use to learn about online privacy agreements for social media sites, including Facebook:

  • Tosdr (Terms of Service; Didn't Read) which breaks down terms of service documents into easily understandable language
  • TOSBack which tracks the terms of service changes of social media sites over time.

To hear more about posting notices on Facebook, click on the audio clip labelled: CBC columnist Dan Misener on Facebook privacy

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