This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen the loquacious Facebook posts about the world ending and our privacy being violated, or in this case, Mark Zuckerberg owning every piece of information that exists on the World Wide Web.
What I’m talking about is the long post many of you might have seen, or simply scrolled passed on your News Feeds: “In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details—The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).” Even citing an ambiguous “Berner Convention”. This is the new Facebook frenzy.
Are people afraid that their deepest darkest secrets will make their way into the hands of their mortal enemies? Why do we see one person’s post on Facebook and instantly delve into a tumultuous back and forth between the meager efforts to protect our photos and the nonchalant I-don’t-give-a-fuck shoulder shrug?
Today, those meager efforts and the new fad is this drawn out status that effectively “claims” your rights to information (that you put out for everyone to see). I’m not one to point the finger, but remember when we all applied to college? We went into an utter panic deleting every shred of evidence that we had ever done anything deemed inappropriate? I was one of those, and my best friend, to this day, won’t take a picture if there is a red cup, let alone a can of beer in the shot.
Aren’t we supposed to be the filter for our own senseless mouths? But here’s the catch-22; we have no filters, so instead you think of some half-assed remark and decide to make your indelible mark on the world with it. I don’t care about what shade of the rainbow you feel like today, and I sure as hell don’t like it when you give me the two options, repost this if you support the millions with cancer, or keep reading if you don’t. What the fuck is that! Am I the bad guy because you can’t think long enough to give me a third option? Oh yeah, and, if you don’t have the time but really feel bad for those suffering, it’s ok to just read this post and move on.
It’s this vicious cycle of not being able to filter what you think, and trusting the website or the 1,681 so-called friends to do the filtering for you. Facebook isn’t in the business of babysitting us and keeping our dirty little secrets hidden. Even the less dirty information, the photographs, the comments we made when we were freshmen in high school, are all up for grabs.
This has created several types of people on the Internet that all feed our constant fear of information abuse. On one end there‘s the social deviant, the person that couldn’t give fewer shits about what is on their Timeline. They put it on the web, they don’t mind if you look at it, or even use it, as long as they don’t hear about it happening. On the other we have the paranoid users. Forget about seeing their profile before you friend them, they already have their privacy settings on what-the-fuck-are-you-looking-at.
Everyone else falls into the massive lump in the middle, and it’s these people that keep the posting alive. What must go through someone’s mind when they first see the firewall of words set to undermine the empire of information we call social networking. To post or not to post? I’ll admit, I sat at my computer and thought about it for a couple minutes.
While I still think it’s silly to post words in order to stop one of the largest websites in history from using your information, what else is out there that we have no control over? Snopes has already proved this one to be a bust, even pointing out that the Berner Convention doesn’t even exist.
What our illiterate fear monger Facebook friends failed to notice was that the Berne Convention, when spelled correctly, refers to an international copyright law that requires Facebook to label the sources of its information, namely the users. Then I stumbled on an interesting piece of information on a similar topic in the New York Times. As I read the article about cell phone privacy, I couldn’t help but wonder: how much of my information that I put on my phone is actually mine?
The article, “Courts Divided Over Search of Cellphones”, by Somini Sengupta highlights the difference in certain states. In California, there is no need for a warrant to look through someone’s phone as long it is on the person at the time of arrest. And on a national level any email that has been sent or received over 180 days ago is free-game to our men in blue. While I have nothing to hide, where is the line? Maybe my phone was never really mine, but an extension of Verizon or T-Mobile?
One Rhode Island judge even defined the line loosely by claiming that text messages were “raw” and “unvarnished”, meaning text messages were considered personal, intimate and—private! But what about when the person I sent that message to forwards it on? What is the limit for how far my privacy reaches? Both the government and myself appear to be lost on this front.
So maybe this is the underlying fear that persuades people to repost things they haven’t even read through. I mean, what the hell is the Rome Statute that this post references? Last I checked I have copyright law on my side, and that was the end of the story. Besides, if you didn’t read the fine print when you signed up, Facebook does own whatever you post on their website.
Imagine Facebook like a dry erase board in an empty room. When you go and write about how many Twinkies you can fit into your mouth #yolo, you don’t own that piece of information. I’m so sorry, but when you tell the entire world about the minutiae of your boring sedentary life, you can’t just take it back. And even though you find some relief in deleting the post, you can’t undo what people have already read.
It’s no different than when those damn bullies called us nerds in elementary school because we knew the difference between their, there and they’re. They couldn’t just take it back and say, “delete” once they realized they were being stupid. Everyone knew that they said it and there was no way for them to get that information back. Facebook is just a faster and more verbose version of the recess jungle gym from hell.
Besides, privacy on Facebook should be the least of our worries. If you write a status update and then think to yourself, “should I post this?” Here’s some advice: don’t! You’ll want to delete it in a few seconds, and with the new stalker crawl on the top right corner of the screen, you’re bound to get at least one like and maybe an abrasive comment rebuking your ignorant review of the latest installment in The Twilight Saga.
The real thriller this season is what we can’t filter through. How much privacy is enough privacy? Is my cell-phone filled with personal information for my eyes only, or for everyone else to see? Sometimes we take the hits that infringe on our privacy for the greater good, and it’s all right because we have nothing to hide. But in our day and age, are we putting too much information out there that we should be hiding?
That strange feeling you feel when you see your younger siblings’ profane posts, or the inappropriate details of your lives posted by your parents is just another reminder that too much about our lives is published for all to see. And what might be worse is that feeling when a lawyer uses your texts against you in a court of law. Don’t we have a right to information privacy or at least a responsibility to protect it?
Maybe for now, while everyone freaks out about Facebook’s world domination we should make the effort to protect ourselves. While we figure out the correct right we have to certain privacies, we ought to be responsible enough to keep some shit to ourselves.
Let’s just scroll passed the thoughtless hoaxes in our News Feed and tune into the debate that isn’t getting the attention it deserves. After all, nobody wants to know how much you <3 listening to The Jonas Brothers as your guilty pleasure.
When you go and write about how many Nassau Weeklys you can fit into your Bennet Alvaro #yolo, you don’t own that piece of information.