Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Facebook terms of service - changed, defended and revoked

Facebook recently updated their terms of service and one of the main changes was the 'removal of a clause allowing users to delete permanently any uploaded content' (source: Metro) . However these changes did not sit well with Facebook users and caused significant discontent.

The Twitter hashtag #facebooktos was widely used as people complained about the changes, whilst large numbers of people protested on Facebook itself by setting up protest Groups. The story even made front page news on Metro newspaper in the UK this morning, under the headline 'Facebook grabs rights to photos':

Metro Facebook grabs photo rightsMetro newspaper in the UK: 'Facebook grabs rights to photos'

As the disquiet intensified, Mark Zuckerburg tried to explain the changes to Facebook terms of service by posting on the Facebook blog:

Mark Zuckerburg explains Facebook terms of service changesMark Zuckerburg explains the terms of service changes on the Facebook blog
(click for larger image or read full post here)

However, this did not diffuse the situation and in the last 2 hours, Mark Zuckerburg has written a further Facebook blog post, this time announcing that Facebook will now cancel the terms of service update and revert to the original terms (for the time being):

Mark Zuckerburg announces cancellation of Facebook terms of service updateMark Zuckerburg announces cancellation of terms of service update (click for larger image or read full post here)

This Mark Zuckerburg blog post is promoted with a message at the top of every Facebook users home page:

Facebook terms of service homepage messageFacebook terms of service update home page message
(click for larger image)

Facebook have also launched a Group called Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities (again promoted in the home page message.) 'This Group is for people to give input on Facebook's terms of use. These terms are meant to serve as the governing document for how the service is used by people around the world':

Facebook Bill Of RightsFacebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities (click for larger image)

Facebook have moved quickly to deal with the disquiet around the terms of service changes and have attempted to placate users by offering them the chance to input thoughts into any future terms of service update. However, this whole episode will make internet users think more carefully about what they upload to the internet and who owns it once it is there. The highlighting of intellectual property rights on social media platforms may have wider effects for social media and terms of service generally will no doubt be studied more closely from now on.

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1 comment:

Guillaume said...

What a messy communication! But as you wrote that will make people more aware of their digital identity and maybe that could limit some abuse in the long run.