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Facebook does U-turn on eternal data grab

Facebook has dumped heavily criticised new service terms that lay claim to photos and messages posted to the site forever - even after accounts are deleted - following an outcry from members.18 Feb 2009

By Chris Williams for The Register. This story has been reproduced with permission.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote late on Tuesday that after discussions with "respected organizations", Facebook had decided to revert to the terms of service it operated under prior to February 4, when the new licensing rules were quietly brought in.

"[It] was what most people asked us for and was the recommendation of the outside experts we consulted," he wrote in a blog posting.

The old terms say that Facebook users grant the site licence to all their content, but only until they delete their account. Facebook said it doesn't claim ownership of the information, but needs the licence to distribute it legally.

The old terms will remain in place while a new "Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" is drawn up. Zuckerberg invited users to contribute to discussion of the new rules via a Facebook group. He wrote they would be less formal and protective.

"We never intended to claim ownership over people's content even though that's what it seems like to many people. This was a mistake and we apologize for the confusion," Facebook wrote on the group for developing the new terms.

The site went into damage limitation mode on Monday when Consumerist pointed out its heavy-handed policy change.

© The Register 2009