Facebook Backs Away From Policy Change

    Facebook Backs Away From Policy Change 1Yielding to pressure from its users and privacy advocates, Facebook Inc. Tuesday night backed away from controversial changes to its terms of use that some had decried as giving the social network too much leeway with users’ personal information.

    Just a day after standing by the revisions, the company said it would scrap the new policy and return to its previous terms of service in a notice to its 175 million users on its Web site.

    “Over the past couple of days, we have received a lot of questions and comments about these updated terms and what they mean for people and their information,” read the statement, which Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg expanded upon in a blog post. “Because of the feedback we received, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised.”

    He added that the company would work on a “substantial revision” of the terms and give Facebook users a role in crafting it by voicing their opinions through a group on its Web site, “Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.”

    The retreat comes after users and privacy professionals raised concerns about changes the company made to its terms of service a few weeks ago but that drew fresh attention from some blogs over the weekend. In particular, Facebook’s new policy said that its right to use and modify a users’ content did not automatically expire if the user removed the information from the site.

    Privacy advocates expressed concern that the terms gave Facebook too broad a right over a users’ information, going beyond the terms established by other social media sites. Mr. Zuckerberg initially defended the changes in a blog post Monday, saying they were designed merely to clarify issues the old policy didn’t adequately address. In particular, Facebook wanted to reflect the fact that content users remove from the site continues to exist if they shared it with other Facebook members.

    The outcry continued, as tens of thousands of members protested the moves by joining groups on Facebook. Mr. Zuckerberg announced the decision to revert to the old policy in a second blog post late Tuesday night. After consulting a range of “outside experts,” the company decided to re-establish the terms that existed before Feb. 4, he wrote.

    It is not the first time that Facebook has backtracked on controversial decisions and sought to quell the outcry by seeking input from its users. In 2007, the company revised a product called Beacon, which allowed users to share actions they take on other Web sites with users on Facebook. After users complained about their ability to control what they shared through the service, Facebook allowed users to opt out of it. More recently, it has been phasing out Beacon.

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    [Read: wsj]