It appears in the wake of global attention and outcry, Facebook has, as of at least 12:27 am, reverted back to the previous Terms of Service. Phew, now we can all go back to sending each other digital cupcakes without Big Brother watching us. This is a temporary move until Facebook can draft a new Terms of Service that addresses the users’ concerns. CEO Zuckerberg wrote a new blog post, and Facebook spokesperson Barry Schnitt released this statement:
First, I want to apologize for the delay in response. It’s been a long day with lots of interesting and constructive discussions. Second, I want to thank you for your questions and concerns. As Mark expressed in his blog post on Monday, it was never our intention to confuse people or make them uneasy about sharing on Facebook. I also want to be very clear that Facebook does not, nor have we ever, claimed ownership over people’s content. Your content belongs to you.
I hope you don’t think your participation in this discussion was a waste of time. Honestly, your questions were very helpful to us in arriving at what we believe is the right decision. Also, I think your questions will continue to be useful as we’re crafting a new Terms.
Again, thanks for the fruitful discussion and a special thanks to Anne Katherine and Julius for setting up this feedback forum. We hope you’ll all join our “Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” ( http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=69048030774 ) group and continue discussing these issues there.
CEO Zuckerberg’s blog post:
Many of us at Facebook spent most of today discussing how best to move forward. One approach would have been to quickly amend the new terms with new language to clarify our positions further. Another approach was simply to revert to our old terms while we begin working on our next version. As we thought through this, we reached out to respected organizations to get their input.
Going forward, we’ve decided to take a new approach towards developing our terms. We concluded that returning to our previous terms was the right thing for now. As I said yesterday, we think that a lot of the language in our terms is overly formal and protective so we don’t plan to leave it there for long.
More than 175 million people use Facebook. If it were a country, it would be the sixth most populated country in the world. Our terms aren’t just a document that protect our rights; it’s the governing document for how the service is used by everyone across the world. Given its importance, we need to make sure the terms reflect the principles and values of the people using the service.
Our next version will be a substantial revision from where we are now. It will reflect the principles I described yesterday around how people share and control their information, and it will be written clearly in language everyone can understand. Since this will be the governing document that we’ll all live by, Facebook users will have a lot of input in crafting these terms.
You have my commitment that we’ll do all of these things, but in order to do them right it will take a little bit of time. We expect to complete this in the next few weeks. In the meantime, we’ve changed the terms back to what existed before the February 4th change, which was what most people asked us for and was the recommendation of the outside experts we consulted.
If you’d like to get involved in crafting our new terms, you can start posting your questions, comments and requests in the group we’ve created-Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. I’m looking forward to reading your input.
Initially, Zuckerberg responded by saying, “In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want.” As we all know, there’s reality, and then there’s lawyers. His “philoshopy” was benign, but was not reflected in the legal language. It’s good to see it now will be, and that Facebook has made clear their intent to move towards a policy that more explicitly safeguards the copyrights and privacies of its users.