Facebook backs down on privacy policy after uproar

After a public outcry about a change in Facebook’s privacy policies, the company conceded to the vehement objections and reverted back to their old guidelines Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Facebook changed its Terms of Service to give the company exclusive rights to all user content, indefinitely – even if a user decides to delete their account.

The Consumerist, a blog published by consumer advocacy group Consumers Union, called attention to the changes last Sunday, saying that, “anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever.”

After Facebook users expressed concern over the new policy, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s creator, revoked the perpetual licensing right and reverted back to old privacy policies.

“Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago,” Zuckerberg wrote on a message on Facebook’s homepage. “Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised.”

On a blog on Facebook’s Web site, Zuckerberg explained the reasoning behind keeping a user’s information indefinitely.

“When a person shares something like a message with a friend, two copies of that information are created – one in the person’s sent messages box and the other in their friend’s inbox. Even if the person deactivates their account, their friend still has a copy of that message,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We think this is the right way for Facebook to work, and it is consistent with how other services like email work.”

Although aggressive licensing laws are customary among social networking sites, GW Law School professor John Banzhaf said, “Facebook might have gone a bit farther than others.”

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