EXTRA: Facebook's Change in their Terms of Service – UPDATE – Terms Reverted

UPDATE: Looks like the customer IS always right.  According to the Facebook Blog, they have returned to its PREVIOUS TOS. They have also started a group where users  can suggest ideas of what they might want to include in an updated TOS.

Prospere Magazine has learned that social networking site, Facebook has changed its Terms of Service (TOS) to basically allow information posted on your profile be licenced to them perpetually, even after your account is deleted.  This has some users worried.  After all, they were not informed of this change – the TOS was updated at the beginning of February, but no one noticed until a few days ago.  Facebook, however, feels that you have agreed with the decision.  To them, just by having an account means that you have agreed. 

While most people understand that that they have licensed their information to social networking sites as soon as they sign on, they have a right to be worried about Facebook’s TOS.   It seems that they want more control than their competition.  Blogger Amanda French compared Facebook’s TOS with other social networking and sharing sites, including competitor MySpace, Twitter and YouTube.  According to Amanda, other sites do not give themselves perpetual rights.  Twitter’s licence to your information, for example, expires as soon as you delete your account.  YouTube retains videos that people have deleted, but according to their TOS, they will not “display, distribute, or perform, server copies of User Submissions that have been removed or deleted.”  All sites clearly indicate that the user owns the rights. 

Facebook, on the other hand does not note that.  While founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg has indicated in a blog post that yes, the individual still “owns” his/her content,  it is not easing people’s perspectives on the possibility of Facebook using images and other content from inactive accounts.  Mark goes on by addressing the main issue of Facebook’s perpetual licence of content by giving an example of private messages.  He mentions that messages stay in the active users’ accounts even after individuals delete their accounts – and that the new TOS reflects that.  But my question to the people at Facebook is this: Can’t messages from inactive users be deleted upon their cancellation?  It is 2009.  Isn’t there some kind of technology out there that can do this?

People have started protest groups on Facebook regarding the new TOS.  Perhaps Facebook will give in and make changes like they did with Beacon two years ago.  If enough people are upset, they have to give in and listen to their customers and users.  After all, the customer is always right…..or are they?


  1. It makes no sense that Facebook would risk messing up a good thing by edging in on people’s intellectual property. They had people’s trust and then they go and risk losing it; not smart.

  2. coffee buzz,

    Well, they did say that you own the copyright to anything you’ve written. It’s just the fact that they feel they could do whatever with your stuff even AFTER you delete your account that people find bad. Most electronic editions of newspapers, magazines, etc state in their Terms that you basically licence any comments you make on their articles. I’ve seen that in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, etc…