About Face(book)

February 18, 2009

By Jonathan Cohen:

Imagine seeing an online advertisement for Facebook featuring a family photo you posted five years ago.  Under the new terms of use recently unveiled by Facebook, this hypothetical situation could have been a reality for its users.

On February 4, Facebook revised its terms of use to state that the site would retain user-posted content after users terminate their accounts, and can use that content for practically any purpose imaginable.  Understandably, this revision caused concern amongst users on a massive scale (a Google blog search for “Facebook terms of use” returned over 10 million results).

In direct response to public rallying against the policy change, and perhaps out of fear that users would jump ship and take up residence on competing social networking sites, Facebook swiftly reinstated its old terms of use on February 18.

According to a blog post by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the reversion to the old terms of use is only temporary while Facebook works to “resolve the issues that people have raised.”  Zuckerberg also confirmed that the next round of revisions will be “significant” and that users will have some say regarding the new terms.  If you would like to participate in the development of the new terms of use, Facebook is now accepting user comments, questions, and suggestions here.

The Consumer Warning Network will provide updates as further information about changes to Facebook’s terms of use becomes available.