Sunday, May 24, 2009

Something About Facebook

Facebook users take their privacy very seriously--and the social-networking site received that message loud and clear.

Facebook created a firestorm of controversy earlier this week as word spread that it had changed a longstanding but little-publicized claim to an "irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license" for promotional efforts--which would no longer expire if a member deleted his or her Facebook account.

Facebook reorganized its terms of service on February 11. In a blog post, company legal representative Suzie White provided an explanation. "We used to have several different documents that outlined what people could and could not do on Facebook, but now we're consolidating all this information to one central place," White wrote. "We've also simplified and clarified a lot of information that applies to you, including some things you shouldn't do when using the site."

The blog post sounded benign. But the brouhaha arose on Sunday. Blogs declared the change a cause for alarm. Protest groups sprang up on the social-networking site, with more than 100,000 users joining one such group.

Privacy advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center was threatening to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, demanding that the massively popular social-networking service return to its previous policies.

To get an idea how its users felt about the changes, Facebook began a poll in its users' News Feeds, asking them their opinion on the TOS change. And an overwhelming majority favored returning to its previous terms of service.

Facing a revolt of tens of thousands of its users, Facebook quickly announced that it was returning to its previous terms.

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