Directly from EPIC new:
On February 18, 2009, hours before EPIC planned to file a complaint
with federal regulators regarding changes to Facebook's Terms of
Service, the social network service restored the original policy.
Facebook also committed to a more transparent, participatory process
regarding future changes to its Terms of Service, a process that
"reflect[s] the principles and values of the people using the service."
"Facebook users will have a lot of input in crafting these terms," the
The modified Terms of Service were announced on February 4, were widely
criticized, and were to be the subject of the EPIC Federal Trade
Commission complaint. EPIC observed that the modified Terms of Service
included several material changes, which adversely impacted Facebook
customers, eviscerated wide-recognized privacy rights, and unilaterally
and retroactively transferred control of user generated content to
Facebook. These modifications were made without any meaningful notice
to Facebook users. EPIC noted that the unilateral transfer of rights to
Facebook was an unfair and deceptive business practice. Facebook users
observed that, under the revised policies, Facebook asserted broad,
permanent, and retroactive rights to users' personal information - even
after they deleted their accounts. The EPIC complaint was supported by
more than a dozen consumer and privacy organizations.
Facebook's original Terms of Service stated "[w]hen you post User
Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies
thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and
storage of the User Content on the Site." The original Terms of Service
also promised "[y]ou may remove your User Content from the Site at any
time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted
[to Facebook] will automatically expire..." These clauses allow
Facebook to make use of user-generated information in a manner that is
consistent with typical privacy laws, which permit the business use of
customer data for purposes that are necessary or incident to the
provision to the service.
Facebook's modified Terms of Service removed language regarding
deletion of users' content from Facebook and the expiration of
Facebook's right to use such content. The modified terms also omitted
the provision limiting Facebook's use of user data to activities
incident to providing the service. The modified terms permitted
Facebook to utilize users' personal information for any purpose –
including explicitly the commercialization and monetization of Facebook
users' names and likenesses – for Facebook's benefit. Facebook's
modified Terms of Service asserted greater rights to user data than
policies established by similar services, including MySpace, Yahoo, and
In response to user concerns, Facebook has established a new Group
Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and is seeking comments
from users. The page includes these statements from the company:
1. You own your information. Facebook does not. This includes your
photos and all other content.
2. Facebook doesn't claim rights to any of your photos or other
content. We need a license in order to help you share information
with your friends, but we don't claim to own your information.
3. We won't use the information you share on Facebook for anything
you haven't asked us to. We realize our current terms are too broad
here and they make it seem like we might share information in ways
you don't want, but this isn't what we're doing.
4. We will not share your information with anyone if you deactivate
your account. If you've already sent a friend a message, they'll
still have that message. However, when you deactivate your account,
all of your photos and other content are removed.
5. We apologize for the confusion around these issues. 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.