In the past two days, I’ve noticed an increasing number of Facebook posts that warns other users to protect their rights and refuse these “change in terms” by simply posting a status update. These posts seem to make its rounds every year.
The message goes something like this…
“Now it’s official! It has been published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: $5.99 to keep the subscription of your status to be set to “private”. If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (paste not share) if not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even the messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. After all, it does not cost anything for a simple copy and paste
Do we even know what the Rome Statute means?
Now, imagine, if you signed a credit card agreement with a creditor who changed their credit terms and all you had to do was publicly state you disagree with the terms yet still continue to use the card. You’re still legally bound by the agreement unless you choose to cancel the credit card.
Although, this Facebook status update is a hoax, if you truly do not agree to any terms of service from any provider the best solution is to not use the service. Facebook reiterates the website will remain free indefinitely.
After reading Facebook’s Terms of Service (TOS), it states the information you share on Facebook belongs to you. Facebook has addressed these hoax multiple times,
“There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.”
So how does this Facebook update hoax remind me about personal finance?
3 Personal Finance Tips from the Facebook Status Update Hoax That’s Making Its Rounds… Again
Read and understand the terms of service and credit agreements you’ve signed.
The Facebook status update hoax reminds me of how little we read the actual agreements we enter in to. By simply stating you disagree to the terms does not remove the requirement to adhere to the terms. In the case of the Facebook status hoax, if it were true, simply updating your status to opt-out, wouldn’t be legally binding.
Personal Finance Tip: Read the fine print of the account agreements with your creditors, financial institutions and other services that you’ve signed or will sign in the future. Ask questions directly from the companies pertaining to parts of the agreement that is unclear. Read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section and again ask additional questions until you clearly understand.
Prevent miscommunication by doing a bit of research from trusted sources.
The Facebook status update hoax continues to persist because people aren’t actually reading the information that is being shared. Through the use of social media we’re creating legitimacy through shared status updates. By virtue of the social shares we assume legitimacy to the claim but a simple search may prove otherwise. These types of chain hoax has persisted in various forms from chain letters to chain email. Break the cycle and stop posting information that you haven’t verified.
Personal Finance Tip: Be mindful of the financial advice you receive from family, friends and experts. You might get stock advice from a friend who doesn’t invest in the stock market. Or you might get insurance advice from an insurance agent who earns commissions selling insurance. To protect yourself from misinformation, know the source of the information and the validity of it by researching it yourself. When sharing information from any source that requires you to put your personal stamp of approval do a bit of research. Are you willing to stand behind this post and put your name behind it?
Protect your identity and social capital.
What you share publicly online is a reflection of you. These types of Facebook status updates requiring you to copy/paste are a form of identity theft that is stealing your good name to legitimize a hoax. Unfortunately, our Facebook connections may share misinformation or links that could potentially lead to phishing scams that try to steal your identity for purposes of criminal monetary gain.
Personal Finance Tip: Thousands of people fall prey to online phishing scams and have cost consumers billions of dollars. Protect yourself and your finances by an increased awareness that no one will contact you via Facebook about winning a contest because you posted a status update. Additionally, no one will email you about your inheritance from a prince in Nigeria and the only person who makes money from cashing checks for strangers is the stranger. If you find information from your financial institution, creditors or others that is suspect reach out to the company directly and inquire. Remember that no financial institution will every ask you to verify your information via email or on social media that was not initiated by you.
What does this all mean? It’s important for us to be mindful of the agreements we sign, the information we share and endorsing misinformation with our good name.