Facebook tweaks terms over censorship fears

Facebook tweaks terms over censorship fears

Summary: Facebook has scrapped a change to its terms that users complained could be used as an excuse for censorship, and reopened the consultation into the other changes to those terms.Facebook has reopened a consultation on proposed changes to its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

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TOPICS: Telcos
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Facebook has scrapped a change to its terms that users complained could be used as an excuse for censorship, and reopened the consultation into the other changes to those terms.

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Facebook has reopened a consultation on proposed changes to its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Image credit: CNET UK

Thousands of users sent in responses to the proposed revisions to Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities during a brief consultation period that Facebook quietly ran in March. The social-networking firm said late on Friday that it would re-open the consultation for the next week, and that it had already altered some proposed changes due on the reaction they received.

"Based on your feedback during the recent comment period for our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR), we have decided to revise some proposed changes [PDF] and further explain many others. We are also re-opening our comment period," Facebook said on its site governance page, the only place it now notifies users of changes to its terms.

Facebook outlined the revisions in a separate document. The biggest change was the deletion of a new term that stated: "Some or all of Facebook's services and features may not be available to users in certain geographic areas. We reserve the right to exclude or limit the provision of any service or feature in our sole discretion."

The company noted that users had asked whether this meant Facebook could in future decide to censor the activities on the network by activists or other users.

"After reviewing your comments to this proposed language, we decided that the additional provision we proposed was open to misinterpretation," Facebook said. "The proposed change was intended to cover circumstances that may prevent us from providing our services. For instance, the Internet may go down, certain features may not be available in some locations, or a regime may block our service in their country."

Two other changes were made. "When you or others who can see your content and information use an application, your content and information is shared with the application" became: "When you use an application, the application may ask for your permission to access your content and information as well as content and information that others have shared with you."

"You will not tag users or send email invitations to non-users without their consent or tag users if you know they do not wish to be tagged" was also changed to: "You will not tag users or send email invitations to non-users without their consent. Facebook offers social reporting tools to enable users to provide feedback about tagging."

Where Facebook had decided not to alter its revisions, but where users had nonetheless complained, the company provided "further explanations" for the changes it was making.

Topic: Telcos

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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