This photograph taken on October 28, 2021 shows the META logo on a laptop screen in Moscow. ( AFP / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV)

Facebook rejects hoax about new policy giving platform 'full access' to user content

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Reports circulating around the world claim Facebook's parent company Meta has adopted a new policy to allow the platform unrestricted access to user content, including deleted messages. The claim is false; Facebook and a cyber security expert said the rumours were baseless. AFP previously debunked a similar chain message that circulated in 2020.

"The new Facebook/Meta rule starts tomorrow where they can use your photos. Don't forget the deadline is today!" reads a lengthy Thai-language Facebook post from November 22.

"Everything you've ever posted will be posted today, even deleted messages."

"I DO NOT ALLOW Facebook/Meta or any other Facebook/Meta related person to use my photos, information or messages, both in the past and in the future."

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post taken on November 23, 2021

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in October the platform was changing the name of its parent company -- which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp -- to Meta.

Similar claims were shared on Facebook in the United States, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Singapore and Thailand.

However, this claim is false.

"I can confirm that the chain message in question is not true," Manaschuen Kovapirat, Facebook’s communications manager for Thailand and Laos, told AFP on November 23.

"People can view and adjust their privacy settings at any time and also use the Privacy Check-up tool to help them control who can see what they share, how their information is used and how to strengthen their account security," she said.

According to Facebook's terms of service, the company's name change has not altered the way it uses or shares data.

"The Facebook company is now Meta. While our company name is changing, we are continuing to offer the same products, including the Facebook app from Meta. Our Data Policy and Terms of Service remain in effect, and this name change does not affect how we use or share data," it said.

The social media giant's policy towards collecting user data can be found here.

'False story'

A cyber security expert said the warning in the chain message was a "false story".

"If you delete an account with any of the giants - they do delete the data entirely. It may take a few days but it does get deleted," Kevin Curran, Professor of Cyber Security at Ulster University in Northern Ireland told AFP.

"Facebook/Meta do not access any deleted content. They have stated this on a number of occasions," he added.

AFP debunked a similar hoax about a purported new Facebook policy in 2020.

AFP works with Facebook's fact-checking programme in more than 80 countries and 24 languages. Under the programme, which started in December 2016, Facebook pays to use fact checks from around 80 organisations, including media outlets and specialised fact checkers, on its platform, WhatsApp and on Instagram. 

November 25, 2021 Added quote from cyber security expert and information about Facebook's fact-checking programme and terms of service