Facebook Goes into Full Retreat

When I logged into Facebook this morning, I found this message at the top of my stalker news feed:

Facebook Terms Update

Anyone who has used Facebook for an extended amount of time knows the subtext of this message: Facebook users are mad as hell and have formed the internet equivalent of a mob with pitchforks and torches. Last time we saw something like this, it was when Facebook introduced the aforementioned news feed. People were up in arms about how much information was being disseminated to their Facebook friends, so Facebook back tracked a little and installed more advanced privacy controls to quiet down the mob a bit.

In this case, they’ve retreated back to the original terms of use and started a group establishing a Bill of Rights for Facebook Users while they reconsider their terms. But, that doesn’t mean they’re out of hot water. Their original terms have been underfire too. This blog post from 2007 analyzed Facebook’s terms of service, dissecting it section by section and detailing why users should be concerned. Some of the comments are petty about minor things (“Oh, I guess you can’t insult the king of Thailand according to these terms since it violates the laws of Thailand”), but largely the concerns are about how vague the wording is and how sweeping Facebook’s administration’s power is.

Facebook’s response is under the cut.

Facebook Bill of Rights:

1. You own your information. Facebook does not. This includes your photos and all other content.

2. Facebook doesn’t claim rights to any of your photos or other content. We need a license in order to help you share information with your friends, but we don’t claim to own your information.

3. We won’t use the information you share on Facebook for anything you haven’t asked us to. We realize our current terms are too broad here and they make it seem like we might share information in ways you don’t want, but this isn’t what we’re doing.

4. We will not share your information with anyone if you deactivate your account. If you’ve already sent a friend a message, they’ll still have that message. However, when you deactivate your account, all of your photos and other content are removed.

5. We apologize for the confusion around these issues. We never intended to claim ownership over people’s content even though that’s what it seems like to many people. This was a mistake and we apologize for the confusion.

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