The Low-Down on Facebook’s Privacy Policy

You know that feeling you get when someone is observing your every movement although its not immediately obvious that you’re being watched because they’re so sneaky about it? This nagging feeling you get definitely rings true, especially so when you’re an active user of social networking sites and let’s be completely honest — most of us can barely refrain from checking our newsfeed every hour or so. It wouldn’t come as a big surprise to learn that Facebook is the third most popular app on our smartphones, after email and the browser. Studies cite that 70% of smartphone users are frequent Facebook visitors, with over half of us logging in every single day at the bare minimum. If that doesn’t spell out addiction, then I don’t know what does!

Just a little over a month ago, our favourite social networking site did its due diligence by informing us of the “new” privacy policy which annoyingly kept popping up every time we were drawn into our cyber lives which comes up to about 14 times a day — give or take. The new policy could have been written in a foreign language for all I knew, as I didn’t get around to going through it till about a week after when I started noticing a number of people in my friends circle putting up the following excerpt as their statuses to record their protest against the giant social network’s policies:

 “Due to the fact that Facebook has chosen to use software that will allow the theft of my personal information, I do declare the following: on this day, 29th November 2014, in response to the new Facebook guidelines and under articles L.111, 112 and 113 of the code of intellectual property, I declare that my rights are attached to all my personal data, drawings, paintings, photos, texts etc… published on my profile since the day I opened my account. For commercial use of the foregoing my written consent is required at all times.

By this release, I tell Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, broadcast, or to take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The actions mentioned above apply equally to employees, students, agents and/or other staff under the direction of Facebook. The contents of my profile include private information. The violation of my privacy is punished by the law (UCC 1 1-308 – 308 1 -103 and the Rome Statute). Facebook is now an open capital entity.

Those reading this text can copy it and paste it on their Facebook wall. This will allow them to place themselves under the protection of copyright. If you have not published this statement at least once, you will tacitly allow the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile update.”

To sum it up, Facebook claims to leave us with the option of placing ourselves under the protection of copyright disallowing the social network from disclosing, copying, distributing broadcasting or taking any other action on the basis our profiles and contents.

However, these claims are downright meaningless because you first have to agree to Facebook’s terms and conditions before being allowed to create a new account. Effectively, by giving our consent to the initial terms and conditions which still states that continued use of the site means that as a user, you agree to the current updates AND the privacy policy as it were when you first signed up. Therefore, if you continue using Facebook, you are inherently complying to its so-called “privacy” policy plus its previous policies during the sign-up phase.

How do we get around this issue? There are two effective ways to stop Facebook from collecting your intellectual property for their own use. You can either opt to stop using Facebook which I admit is rather extreme — or you could do as I do and install a VPN on any device that you use so as to protect your online privacy. Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers you the best solution for this pesky problem by acting as an encryption tunnel between you and the internet, effectively shielding you from theft of intellectual property by hiding your IP address which then makes it impossible for websites or individuals to monitor your online activities or steal your information. Protect yourself from prying eyes and get yourself a reliable VPN service and check into your Facebook account as many times a day as you want with complete ease of mind.

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