Well, yesterday’s Facebook post certainly blew up today, and it looks like Facebook is currently preparing an official response. In the meantime, a Facebook rep has written to the Industry Standard to emphasize that all rights are subject to your privacy settings, so even if they don’t expire when you close your account, they’ll still be subject to whatever restrictions you had when the account was active. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has also posted a more philosophical response on the Facebook blog saying that while the new Terms of Service are “overly formal,” they’re only meant to give Facebook the legal ability to enable content sharing among users.
Here’s what the Facebook rep told the Industry Standard:
We are not claiming and have never claimed ownership of material that users upload. The new Terms were clarified to be more consistent with the behavior of the site. That is, if you send a message to another user (or post to their wall, etc…), that content might not be removed by Facebook if you delete your account (but can be deleted by your friend). Furthermore, it is important to note that this license is made subject to the user’s privacy settings. So any limitations that a user puts on display of the relevant content (e.g. To specific friends) are respected by Facebook. Also, the license only allows us to use the info “in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.” Users generally expect and understand this behavior as it has been a common practice for web services since the advent of webmail. For example, if you send a message to a friend on a webmail service, that service will not delete that message from your friend’s inbox if you delete your account.
“Facebook: “We have never claimed ownership” of members’ content” [The Standard]
“Do you belong to Facebook, forever?” [Chicago Tribune]
“On Facebook, People Own and Control Their Information” [Facebook]