Terms Limits

Twice this week I saw the same Facebook chain-status (for lack of a better term) shared, claiming that there are ‘new Facebook rules’ about how the company handles your intellectual property. In addition to some vague legalese, the status touches on privacy, new algorithms, something about bypassing the system, yada yada yada. This status is bogus.

First off, copying and pasting a few paragraphs into a status will not affect any of your settings. Second, sharing a status does not constitute a legal argument. Lastly, Facebook does not need to make new rules to circumvent privacy settings. They’ve been taking advantage of you since you signed their terms and conditions whether you read them or not.

To quote Facebook’s terms and conditions, which are not difficult to find on their site, they can “host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content.” Their right is non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide AND extends to accounts and content that has even been deleted. Fun! In other words, copying and pasting this status accomplishes nothing more than wasting your time. I do not know who created this chain status, but it’s been passed around the internet since 2012 and is shared widely despite being debunked by Snopes.com nearly seven years ago.

But this column isn’t about the Facebook status I saw last week, it’s about fake news in general. As a community center that focuses on providing high-quality access to reliable information, it is our responsibility to make sure our patrons and community are able to spot hazardous materials online and in print. Luckily there are a few tips that make things a bit easier for you, and they can be found right on our website (linked below this column). For those of you that can’t access our website or are just too busy right now, follow these simple guidelines, provided by the International Foundation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA):

  1. Consider the Source: In this case, there was a status with no attribution, just simple text. Red flag.
  2. Check the Author: Again, not only was there no publication attached to it, there was no original author. Red flag #2.
  3. Check the Date: See 1 & 2.
  4. Check Your Biases: If this seems too good to be true, well, it might just be. Your own beliefs could be clouding your judgement, so make sure you consider the story from a different perspective. In this case, the status is feeding off your fears about privacy on the very network that routinely violates your privacy so…
  5. Read Beyond: Even a basic Google search can debunk some of these things. In this case, it didn’t take too much digging to discredit this status. FactCheck.org, Politifact.com, and Snopes.com are decent fact-checking websites that are fairly neutral as well. If you are nervous about them being too one-sided, check other sites as well!
  6. Supporting Sources: Does it cite any additional sources? If so, look into them.
  7. Is it a Joke?: There’s a chance it could just be satire.
  8. Ask the Experts: Librarians are busy, but they never mind looking up information. It’s why we’re here! Heck, I put my email address at the end of every one of these columns. Need help? Ask me!

I know that the eight steps detailed above may seem cumbersome, but if you take the time to determine the validity of the information you consume online, we will all benefit from you sharing better articles in the future.

For more information on this topic, visit our website at hamiltonlibrary.org/information-literacy.

For information on our services and upcoming events, visit our website at hamiltonlibrary.org, find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or just stop in.  

Connect with/complain to Travis Olivera at the Hamilton Public Library by phone at (315) 824-3060 or by email at tolivera@midyork.org.  


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