Following user protests and a media blow-up over a change that went through weeks ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the social network will revert to its old terms of service.
Users were upset that Facebook said it owned their content after it was uploaded to the service. They also didn’t like that a user’s data wouldn’t necessarily be deleted if that user quit Facebook.
Our take is: Duh. Users should assume that as soon as they upload content to a social networking site like Facebook, it’s out of their control like a scarf lost to the wind.
Anyway, that’s not good enough for Facebook users apparently, so last night, Mark posted to say Facebook would reverse course:
Many of us at Facebook spent most of today discussing how best to move forward. One approach would have been to quickly amend the new terms with new language to clarify our positions further. Another approach was simply to revert to our old terms while we begin working on our next version. As we thought through this, we reached out to respected organisations to get their input.
Going forward, we’ve decided to take a new approach towards developing our terms. We concluded that returning to our previous terms was the right thing for now. As I said yesterday, 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.
More than 175 million people use Facebook. If it were a country, it would be the sixth most populated country in the world. Our terms aren’t just a document that protect our rights; it’s the governing document for how the service is used by everyone across the world. Given its importance, we need to make sure the terms reflect the principles and values of the people using the service.
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. Since this will be the governing document that we’ll all live by, Facebook users will have a lot of input in crafting these terms.
You have my commitment that we’ll do all of these things, but in order to do them right it will take a little bit of time. We expect to complete this in the next few weeks. In the meantime, we’ve changed the terms back to what existed before the February 4th change, which was what most people asked us for and was the recommendation of the outside experts we consulted.
If you’d like to get involved in crafting our new terms, you can start posting your questions, comments and requests in the group we’ve created—Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. I’m looking forward to reading your input.