Facebook backs down over controversial privacy policy

facebook_175x125Intellectual Property topics can come from all sorts of unexpected places. The headline above was the lead story facing me as I picked up my local free Metro newspaper this morning.

Firstly, I was surprised to see the social networking phenomenon making it to the forefront of ‘old media’, and secondly, surprised to see Facebook backing down in the face of user complaints so quickly.

The last major U-Turn from Facebook I am aware of was in November 2007 when they removed their online tracking of purchases after more than 50,000 Facebook members signed a petition objecting to the program. Facebook Retreats on Online Tracking.

This time the response from the company has been much more swift, and this evening when I logged into Facebook I was confronted with the message below:

Terms of Use Update: Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog. If you want to share your thoughts on what should be in the new terms, check out our group Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

Bobbie Johnson in the Guardian explains the background to this latest crisis facing Facebook:

Facebook has backed down on controversial changes to its terms of service that angered users and caused protests across the social networking site.

Two weeks ago the site altered its terms of service so that it continued to retain a copy of all a user’s messages, actions and updates – even if they left the network. Until the change, Facebook’s policy was to delete all traces of a user if they chose to quit the site.

After the potential scope of the new legal wording became clear, thousands of outraged Facebook users and privacy campaigners lobbied for the world’s largest social network to revert to its old terms of service.

On Monday it seemed these calls were falling on deaf ears after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg defended the changes in a blogpost, and suggested that users should trust the site with their data.

However, just 24 hours later the company decided to back down. In a message to users last night, Facebook said it would be reverting to its previous terms and conditions for the time being.

3 thoughts on “Facebook backs down over controversial privacy policy

  1. zumpa

    I just can’t believe they went back on their TOS change. People are dumb if they think they are getting any privacy from Facebook or Myspace. All they are doing is voluntarily supplying valuable info to huge marketing mills. Although there are ways to communicate with privacy: anonymous sites like http://www.anonboard.com

  2. Pingback: HotStuff 2.0 » Blog Archive » Word of the Day: “zuckerberg”

  3. Joe

    why would Facebook risk messing up a good thing by edging in on people’s intellectual property? they had people’s trust and then they go and risk losing it; not smart.


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