Video: Facebook backs down on user info policy

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 2/18/2009 7:59:43 AM ET 2009-02-18T12:59:43

Facebook backed down late Tuesday on policy changes that tens of thousands of users complained would grant the social-networking site the ability to control their information forever, even after they cancel their accounts.

“Based on this feedback, we have decided to return to our previous terms of use while we resolve the issues that people have raised,” Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, wrote on The Facebook Blog.

Zuckerberg said the move would be temporary.

“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,” he wrote in the updated blog.

Facebook announced updated terms of use on Feb. 4. Those changes largely went unnoticed until the popular consumer rights advocacy blog Consumerist.com pointed out the changes Sunday.

That prompted a clarification from Zuckerberg, although the new terms remained in force until late Tuesday.

In originally defending the changes, Zuckerberg told users in a blog post Monday that "on Facebook, people own their information and control who they share it with."

When someone shares a photo, a message or a status update telling friends what they are up to at the moment, they first need to grant Facebook a license so the site can pass that information along to authorized friends, Zuckerberg said. Without the license, he said, Facebook wouldn't be able to help people share information.

The rapidly growing site, which boasts around 175 million users around the world, has had several run-ins with users over its short history.

In late 2007, for example, a tracking tool called "Beacon" caught users off-guard by broadcasting information about their shopping habits and activities at other Web sites. After initially defending the practice, Facebook ultimately allowed users to turn Beacon off.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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