Facebook on Monday said it is not usurping users' content despite changing service terms to claim "perpetual worldwide license" to anything posted at the social-networking website.
Changes to terms of service were necessary to keep in step with how people share pictures, comments and other information in the popular online community, according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
"We wouldn't share your information in a way you wouldn't want," Zuckerberg said in an online posting addressing concerns.
"The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work."
Under the terms of service, Facebook has rights to freely use anything people add to the website even after members delete material or close accounts.
"It is common language in every website because their cut-throat lawyer says you need to cover yourself," said Future of Privacy Forum director Jules Polonetsky.
"This doesn't mean that Facebook can make a mini-series on your life or write a book about you, but they might be able to create a feed that lets your friends on Twitter know what you're doing. Folks should just calm down."
The terms of service free Facebook to technologically innovate ways members can share pictures, comments, videos or other digital content without hitting legal tripwires, according to Polonetsky.
Meanwhile, Facebook remains bound by its vow to honor privacy settings members use to dictate which of their online postings can been seen by whom.
Facebook members routinely share comments, pictures and more online and the website needs legal permission to be a platform for such exchanges.
Terms of service acknowledge that once pictures or messages are sent to friends at Facebook, senders surrender control of the data.
Internet users want full ownership and control of their online information while simultaneously being able to collect email addresses, phone numbers, pictures and other data from others, Zuckerberg notes.
"These two positions are at odds with each other," Zuckerberg wrote.
"There is no system today that enables me to share my email address with you and then simultaneously lets me control who you share it with and also lets you control what services you share it with."
Facebook said modifications made about two weeks ago to its terms of service let the website work with the realities of sharing information online and don't permit it to commandeer content from members.
"We are not claiming and have never claimed ownership of material that users upload," Facebook said in an email response to an AFP inquiry.
"Any limitations that a user puts on display of the relevant content are respected by Facebook."
© 2009 AFP
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