Privacy concerns force Facebook terms reversal

Facebook has once again bowed to pressure from its users and privacy campaigners by rolling back changes to the site's terms after a public uproar.

At issue this time around was the new terms of service (TOS) that some claimed would allow the social networking site to keep a user's uploaded content, even after they'd left the site.

On 4 February, Facebook revamped its terms, removing two lines that read: "You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content."

Removing those lines suggested the site had license to keep any user content forever. Whether users read the new terms or not, by continuing to use the site they had tacitly agreed to them.

After the change was publicised, Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg posted in the site's blog that there was no intention to take control of users' content. He claimed the change was functional, to allow the site to hold necessary content when a user left. For example, the terms allowed the site to keep a copy of a message in the inbox of one user if the sender decided to quit the site much in the same way as email works.

"In reality, we wouldn't share your information in a way you wouldn't want," Zuckerberg wrote. "The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work."

Last night, Zuckerberg again posted in Facebook's blog, saying the terms of service had been rolled back to their last version and asked users for input into creating new terms and a "Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" for the massive site. "Given its importance, we need to make sure the terms reflect the principles and values of the people using the service," he wrote.

Facebook has previously angered its users with its automated web-tracking system Beacon. As with this time, the public uproar lead to the site reversing the move to make users opt out of the service.

Click here for five things you probably didn't know about Facebook.