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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.