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Zuckerberg Attempts to Save Face(book)


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

It's amazing how far consumer advocacy can go when it affects over 175 million people.

Consumerist's breaking story on Facebook's changed terms of service -- which seemed to grant the social network rights to user content in perpetuity -- was picked up in hundreds of news outlets - including the New York Times, Reuters and Minyanville. Numerous Facebook groups sprang up protesting the new terms of service - one of which snagged 80,000 members overnight.

Thousands of angry comments and millions of pageviews later, change has come: Facebook has acquiesced to the public outcry and reverted to the earlier, noncontroversial wording of their terms of service.

The changes took effect shortly after midnight and were outlined in the company's public statement, a new blog entry by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, as well as a message on users' homepage.

In the statement, Facebook spokesperson Barry Schnitt reiterated that it was never the company's intention to claim ownership over users' content. Zuckerberg reflected that sentiment in his blog entry, but -- as he's wont to do -- failed to purge his characteristic pomposity from his comments.

He writes, "We concluded that returning to our previous terms was the right thing for now. As I said yesterday, we think that a lot of the language in our terms is overly formal and protective so we don't plan to leave it there for long."

He goes on to say that the terms "will be written clearly in language everyone can understand."

Once again, Zuckerberg blames users' stupidity, rather than the company's legal maneuvering. Fortunately, the public outrage was expressed in a way that Facebook's bottom-liners were able to understand.

Oh -- and this is scarcely mentioned -- the person responsible for editing the terms of service is Ted Ullyot, one of Facebook's lawyers. If that name doesn't sound familiar, it's because his previous boss also gained the lion's share of the attention.

Ullyot worked under former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez prior to his exodus under changes of illegal wiretapping and privacy invasion, among other serious crimes.

Kind of puts it all into perspective, no?
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