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Facebook reverts to old policy

entertainment Updated: Feb 18, 2009 16:54 IST

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Social networking site Facebook has decided to go back to its old policy on user information. Apparently, the site has posted a brief message on users' homepages, saying it is returning to its old ‘Terms of Use’ policy.

The ‘Terms of Use’ is the legalese tacked on to the bottom of most Web sites that details what the site's owners can do with the information that users provide.

Facebook termsThis social networking site was in locked in for content-rights battle after revealing earlier this month that it was granting itself permanent rights to users' photos, wall posts and other information even after a user closed an account.

The popular site allows users to create personal profiles where they can then connect with one another, upload photos and share links. The site boasts more than 150 million active users.

Member backlash against Facebook began over the weekend after a consumer advocate Web site, The Consumerist, flagged a change made to Facebook's policy earlier in the month. The company deleted a sentence from the old Terms of Use. That sentence said Facebook could not claim any rights to original content that a user uploaded once the user closed his or her account. It replaced it with: "You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. ... (H)owever, you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content." In response, Chris Walters wrote in the Consumerist post, "Make sure you never upload anything you don't feel comfortable giving away forever, because it's Facebook's now."

Thousands of indignant members either cancelled their accounts or created online petitions. Among them were more than 64,000 who joined a group called ‘The People Against the new Terms of Service’.

On Monday, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg tried to quell the controversy by saying the company's philosophy is that "people own their information and control who they share it with".

But members were not appeased because the site did not fix its Terms of Use. The company, in its post on Wednesday, said it was returning to its previous Terms of Use because of the "feedback" it had received.