Facebook Rewinds Terms Of Service Changes - InformationWeek

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2/18/2009
03:01 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
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Facebook Rewinds Terms Of Service Changes

Facing outrage from its users, Facebook has backed off on changes it recently introduced to its Terms of Service (TOS) that claimed ownership of all material in perpetuity, even after users terminated their accounts. But the underlying issues of who controls what your company puts on Facebook aren't going away so easily.

Facing outrage from its users, Facebook has backed off on changes it recently introduced to its Terms of Service (TOS) that claimed ownership of all material in perpetuity, even after users terminated their accounts. But the underlying issues of who controls what your company puts on Facebook aren't going away so easily.Late last night, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerman blogged that the company would return to its earlier TOS, and promised to re-examine the whole question: "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..."

"Our next version will be a substantial revision from where we are now. It will reflect the principles I described yesterday around how people share and control their information, and it will be written clearly in language everyone can understand."

The social-networking giant also created a group called the Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities "for people to give input on Facebook's terms of use." The group lays out the following 5 principles:

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.

That's all good. But as I pointed out in my blog post on Monday -- Beware Facebook's New Terms Of Service -- it's not so much the particulars in the TOS language or any network's specific practices as the whole idea that once you put your company's materials up on a social networking site -- any social networking site -- you had better be prepared for it no longer being totally under your control.

That can be a scary thought, but I still think that social networking is the next great marketing opportunity for small and midsize companies. Heck, maybe the risks will scare off some big enterprises and leave the field open for the scrappy, risk-taking little guys.

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