Facebook reverts Terms of Use

Earlier this week, The Consumerist brought to our attention the fact that Facebook had altered its Terms of Use, claiming a license in perpetuity to anything users posted to the site. (Read the original Consumerist article or my thoughts on the topic). Many users expressed concern (to put it mildly) about the new terms.

In the face of so much concern, Facebook has reverted their Terms of Use page to a September 28, 2008 version. The paragraph on user content now states:

When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content. [Source]

Aside from replacing the bit about the license expiring if you remove your content, Facebook also removed the passage that said they could use your "name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising."

Also worth noting is that they announced this change to the Terms of Use on every user's homepage. While it certainly behooves Facebook to do so in this case, let's hope that this becomes standard policy moving forward. Transparency is a good thing when you're dealing with users sharing their lives online.

For now, we can throw down our pitchforks and torches and get back to posting vacation pictures and listing 25 things you may not know about us. But my earlier advice stands: license or no license, anything you post to your Facebook page has the potential to linger online essentially forever. Think before you share!

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