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Facebook rethinks data ownership change after users revolt

LONDON - Facebook has backtracked on recent amendments to its terms of service, which claimed ownership of uploaded content even after user profiles had been deleted, after a blogosphere and Facebook user protest.

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Earlier this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg provoked a storm of controversy after releasing updated terms of service for the social networking site.

Under the new terms, a clause that allows users to permanently delete any uploaded content was removed.

Critics claimed this granted Facebook lifelong ownership rights to user photos, videos, written content and music, even if their profile had been deleted.

Within a day, a number of Facebook groups were launched to protest the changes and the story appeared across national newspapers, while bloggers fervently expressed their opposition to the new terms online.

A brief statement from Zuckerberg on Monday attempted to quell the storm asking for users to "trust" Facebook, with an analogy: "When a person shares something like a message with a friend, two copies of that information are created -- one in the person's sent messages box and the other in their friend's inbox.

"Even if the person deactivates their account, their friend still has a copy of that message. We think this is the right way for Facebook to work, and it is consistent with how other services like email work.

"One of the reasons we updated our terms was to make this more clear."

Yesterday, after Zuckerberg's statement drew even more criticism from users, the company decided to revert back to its old terms while it "resolves the issue that people have raised" promising the new terms "will be written clearly in a language everyone can understand".

The new finalised terms are expected to be released within a number of weeks and will be allowed to be scrutinised by Facebook users.

The situation echoes a similar uproar in the Facebook community in 2007 when the social networking site introduced its Beacon ad-targeting service.

Users were quick to slam the programme, which automatically signed up Facebook members and provided personal details about user shopping habits, initially without the option to opt-out.

After some threatened legal action, Facebook eventually let users remove the programme from their profiles.

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