What’s Up with the Disclaimers on Facebook?

Avisados by Daniel Lobos, Ruth Carter
Avisados by Daniel Lobos

I’ve had multiple people ask for my take on the following disclaimer that lots of people are posting on their Facebook timelines:

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 photographs, and/or the comments made about my photographs or any other “art” related posts 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.


Apparently people think that rules regarding others’ use of their information and intellectual property changed when Facebook became publicly traded and that posting this disclaimer will prevent others from using their photos and other information contained in their profiles. I hate to burst your bubble, but it doesn’t.

When you signed up for Facebook, you agreed to the terms of the site. The fact that Facebook is now publicly traded doesn’t change anything related to how Facebook can use your information that you willingly posted to your profile.

The current Facebook terms state that you gave Facebook a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any [intellectual property] content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.” This license ends when you delete the information from your profile. So if you don’t want Facebook to use any of your information or photographs, delete them.

Posting this disclaimer will have no effect. By using Facebook, you continue to agree to abide by the terms of the site. If you read Facebook’s terms and conditions, you will notice that there’s no provision that says you can change the terms. Your options are to accept the terms and keep using the site or to delete everything on your profile and stop using Facebook. You can’t manipulate the terms to get what you want this time.

If you want more information about this issue, check out the Snopes page on this topic.

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Geek Law Firm.

4 responses to “What’s Up with the Disclaimers on Facebook?”

  1. Isn’t photography law more complicated than that though? There is a recent Canadian law that states a photographer owns his/her photos. Also, despite publicity on the problem, people continue using these sites who would not wish to see their images turn up in advertising without their current and case-specific consent. There must be bad faith there somewhere. Terms of use for itunes has been parodied over the possibility that any term could slip in there because it is expected that only reasonable terms would be included and people are not given the option to cherry pick the terms and still use the service. And if a user on FB shares an article or image posted by another user or a copyrighted image from films or TV (as is the case when admired performers die and we share favourite clips of them) we might think the language is to protect FB from being blamed or sued as complicit in that content use. Furthermore, people who signed up in 2007 (like myself) would have agreed to different terms of service and the idea of passive consent is murky. “She who is silent is understood to consent” sounds like a Cee Lo Green logic. If Facebook were to go ahead and sell images from its members – as we fear – and they see their image promoting something, embarrassing or not, can’t they sue the advertising firm or owner of the product or service being advertised for bad faith ? And can’t they stir the pot and lobby against them to the point where Facebook loses that relationship ? What is troubling is that “likes” can be bought and sold to promote something – even a dating service – and “likes” are not content uploaded by the user but an appropriation of the person’s name. I wonder how many nuisance lawsuits are being dealt with by FB currently or being settled. If people want to listen to music and register with itunes, they don’t have much choice about clicking “I accept.” The same principle with FB which is now sort of a directory or Rolodex for one’s social and business circles.

    • I expect Facebook and other social media platforms to have similar terms of service that include terms such as:
      – By uploading a photo to our site, you attest that you own or have permission to use it. You give the site permission to use it for any reason we want without attribution, compensation, or additional permission from you.
      – If the site is accused to infringement because of something you uploaded, you will indemnify us against any wrongdoing and pay our legal and other fees.
      – We can modify the terms of service of this site at any time. By continuing to use the site, you communicate your acceptance of the new terms.

  2. The ppl posting the disclaimers aren’t prohibiting Facebook from doing anything,they are prohibiting the government from using their information,I’m not a lawyer but I can read,why are you trying to divert the attention? That also mean a LAWYER cannot use your information contained on a person’s Facebook page as well if they post the disclaimer,you know full well it’s legal and with merit,a disclaimer can be written and used on paper to protect a individual and in cyberspace.

    • If a person’s profile is public, the person should treat everything they post as if it’s on a billboard where anyone can see it. For posts that are limited to friends or only a few people, there are situations where a court could order Facebook to give them access to the posts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *