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Facebook Reverses Privacy Terms Change, Goes To Users For Help

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Facebook has clicked “undo” on Feb. 4 changes to its Terms Of Service (TOS) that some feared would give it perpetual ownership of users’ material even after they delete their accounts. Instead, it’s asking those users — rather than just the lawyers — to help it craft new terms entirely. The Consumerist blog, over the weekend, kicked up a fuss over a line Facebook removed from its TOS that would have reverted user content to owners who delete their accounts. Founder Mark Zuckerblog took to the company blog to explain Facebook has to keep some info deleted users have created, like messages posted to friends, since this is the way other services like email work.

But now Zuckerberg has gone back to the blog with a different message: “We’ve decided to take a new approach towards developing our terms. We concluded that returning to our previous terms was the right thing for now … we think that a lot of the language in our terms is overly formal and protective so we don’t plan to leave it there for long. Given its importance, we need to make sure the terms reflect the principles and values of the people using the service. Our next version will be a substantial revision from where we are now.” This time, he’s created a Facebook group to solicit users’ views on what their “bill of rights” should be. With a huge, 175-million user base, Facebook is treading carefully on privacy issues in the wake of its Beacon debacle.


4 Responses to “Facebook Reverses Privacy Terms Change, Goes To Users For Help”

  1. Well that's the problem, Ray. The Facebook TOS as of yesterday, did in fact allow them to use your creations (images, songs, etc.) in any way they saw fit, including promotional and commercial use. In essence, if you posted a photograph on Facebook, they would then have the rights to do whatever they wanted with that image. Not exactly fair, I don't think.

  2. Am I missing something or is everyone else missing something?
    Granted anything I post online can no longer be considered private, no matter what level of protection the website may offer…they can obviously look at my data even if they keep the general pubic from doing so = and there is also the possibility of the site being hackd. If I want it private, I don't put it online. Period.
    Given that, putting something onlne and thus making it public does not mean I don't still own the material. I may make a novel or work of art public, yet still own the rights to how it is used. If Facebook or Picasaweb make my photos available for anyone to view, that's fine with me…that's why I posted them in the first place.
    On the other hand, if I found them selling my photos without my permission, I would consult my lawyer immediately.

  3. While perception is reality, and the emotional response suggests that Facebook needs to do a better job of being consultative with its community versus delivering material edicts from on high, the truth is that this is much ado about nothing.

    We create a "snail trail" when we plug into communities online, that snail trail becomes substrate that interconnects with other users and discussion threads.

    It's just not reasonable to expect that you can rip that out, creating virtual potholes in the communal space.

    Also, why do we begrudge Facebook as nefarious for wanting to monetize these snail trails when we happily accept Google monetizing our traversals, web pages, images and the like? It’s just silly, in my opinion.

    Check out:

    Why Facebook’s Terms of Service Change is Much Ado About Nothing.

    For more fodder on this one.