In case you didn’t notice, Facebook had quietly added a clause in its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities which stated that Facebook could bar users in certain geographic regions from using the social network whenever it wanted. Naturally, it reeked of ambitions to censor people legally and officially and after furious responses from thousands of users, Facebook has finally taken back the clause.
This has been announced by the social network on its official ‘governance’ page. According to Facebook folks, ‘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.’
In a separate document, Facebook also detailed about the changes that had been made in the Statement. The document can be viewed here. The very clause which became the sole bone of contention with most users and which, many feared, may be used by Facebook to bar different kinds of activism was, ‘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.’
However, the explanation provided by the social network was not bad either. Facebook, apparently, wanted to be legally protected in case its services went down in a certain region, as is manifest in this explanation issued by it, ‘After reviewing your comments to this proposed language, we decided that the additional provision we proposed was open to misinterpretation. 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.’
A number of other changes were also made by Facebook, in the light of the feedback gathered from users over the past few months. The silver lining is that Facebook does act on the user feedback and attempts to clarify anything shall the user raise their concerns about it.