Facebook decided that it was going to change it’s terms of service [TOS] a couple weeks ago and did very little if anything to let their members know. Thankfully for Twitter, the news spread quickly and hit my screen on Sunday. The new Facebook TOS was explained on the Consumerist and it was scary to read how the Facebook terms would allow them to hold account details forever and any content from your profile was owned by Facebook and was open for redistribution at will.
Now, anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later.* Want to close your account? Good for you, but Facebook still has the right to do whatever it wants with your old content. They can even sublicense it if they want.
You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.
This caused such an outcry by the Facebook community that several groups formed almost immediately calling for Facebook to change their terms of service back to normal.
Mark Zuckerber took on the topic through the Facebook blog and tried to explain the new Facebook TOS.
Our philosophy is that people own their information and control who they share it with. When a person shares information on Facebook, they first need to grant Facebook a license to use that information so that we can show it to the other people they’ve asked us to share it with. Without this license, we couldn’t help people share that information.
This didn’t seem to be enough for the community and the people kept complaining. Today, Mark Zuckerber posted a new update to the Facebook TOS and says they are going back to the original terms.
Going forward, 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. As I said yesterday, 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.
But reading the blog, even though they are changing the TOS back to what we have known in the past, the door is still open for them to change it in the future and I’m sure there will be new verbage in the TOS soon that will explain the content controls.
I understand the need to update a TOS as technologies evolve and new realities come to light. The problem I had with this was that the Facebook community was not notified by Facebook to the changes. We had to find out by tech savvy bloggers/reporters that jkeep an eye on these things. If it wasn’t for them, would we have ever known?
As Mark mentions in his recent blog post, More than 175 million people use Facebook. If it were a country, it would be the sixth most populated country in the world. As one of the largest online communities in the world, don’t you think it would be nice to let the people know what you are doing so we can have the opportunity to question it or opt out?