The words “Facebook” and “forever” appeared together in a lot of news stories this week, but not as an endearment. On Sunday Consumerist revealed that Facebook had changed its terms of service so that, essentially, anything that anyone put on Facebook belonged to Facebook in a “irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license” way. CIO magazine thought most users wouldn’t care, and would “continue basking in their ignorance until several of their identities (thousands or millions) become seriously compromised,” but the new TOS caused a huge stink, moving CEO Mark Zuckerberg to explain that “People want full ownership and control of their information” and “people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them — like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on — to other services… These two positions are at odds with each other.”
Some tech enthusiasts accepted this; others struggled to make sense of it. But anti-Facebook Facebook sites continued to proliferate. Facebook later clarified (that is, newspoke) that “We are not claiming and have never claimed ownership of material that users upload.” Opponents kept up the pressure, citing other cases in which tech giants had been pushed by popular demand to changed the Orwellian TOS.
Yesterday Facebook gave in, reinstating the old terms of service. “Lesson to be learned: Your users are your blood,” writes Technosailor. “Do not spring things on them without their knowledge, especially when it involves their content.”