Facebook reverses new policy after firestorm


Facebook has been caught in a content-rights firestorm after arbitrarily changing a policy earlier this month that it was granting itself permanent rights to users’ photos, wall posts and more–even after a user closed an account. After nearly a hundred thousand users complained, Facebook said it is reverting to its old policy on user info—for now, CNN reports.

The site posted a brief message on users’ home pages that said it was returning to its previous "Terms of Use" policy "while we resolve the issues that people have raised." Member backlash against Facebook began over the weekend after a consumer advocate website, The Consumerist, flagged a change made to Facebook’s policy earlier in the month. The company deleted a sentence from the old Terms of Use. That sentence said Facebook could not claim any rights to original content that a user uploaded once the user closed his or her account. It was replaced it with: "You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. … (H)owever, you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content."

In response, Chris Walters wrote in the Consumerist post, "Make sure you never upload anything you don’t feel comfortable giving away forever, because it’s Facebook’s now."

Thousands of indignant members either canceled their accounts or created online petitions. Among them were more than 64,000 who joined a group called "The People Against the new Terms of Service."

Earlier this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to quell the controversy by saying the company’s philosophy is that "people own their information and control who they share it with."

But members were not appeased because the site did not fix its Terms of Use. The company, in its post Wednesday, said it was returning to its previous Terms of Use because of the "feedback" it had received.

"As Mark expressed in his blog post on Monday, it was never our intention to confuse people or make them uneasy about sharing on Facebook," company spokesman Barry Schnitt said in a blog post. "I also want to be very clear that Facebook does not, nor have we ever, claimed ownership over people’s content. Your content belongs to you."