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Don't fall for this Facebook hoax

Mary McGuire - Another day, another Facebook hoax.

The latest hoax going around your news feed says Facebook is going to charge you to keep your profile private, and that you need to post a legal notice to your page or you will lose copyright control of your pictures and content. You've probably seen lots of friends posting 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."

This warning is catching a lot of people off guard. But before you copy and paste anything onto your page, remember you shouldn't believe everything you read online. Facebook says this is not true.

So, what's fact and what's fiction?

When Tampa native Francis Mickle first saw the official-looking legal post pop up on her news feed, she took notice, but quickly learned it was all a bunch of hot air.

"I see it a lot. I see a lot of stuff that tells me what I need to do and what I don't need to do. I have since learned it will get me in a lot of trouble with my finances and my privacy, so I am very careful with who I let on my Facebook and who I have to un-friend because these things continue to come my way," said Mickle.

This latest hoax claims users have to re-post the message to maintain their page's privacy, but if you have a Facebook page already, you are already a little too late.

"Your relationship with Facebook is governed by their terms of service. The rights you retain, the content you post, the rights Facebook has to that content, you agreed to that when you signed up. Those types of agreements are viewed as binding contracts," said Tampa media attorney Mark Caramanica.

Once you have signed up for the site, there is nothing you can post, share or like that will change those initial terms of service you agreed to.

"When you post something that tries to amend those initial terms of service, there is no legal effect at all," said Caramanica.

While the hoax seems harmless, it could hurt your credibility, so make sure to do some research before sharing anything on social media.

The company posted: "While there may be water on Mars, don't believe everything you read on the Internet today. Facebook is free and it always will be. And the thing about copying and pasting a legal notice is just a hoax. Stay safe out there Earthlings!"

If you're not sure whether something you read online is true, you can visit Snopes.com, a website devoted to busting online myths.


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