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2/19/2009 00:24:44
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Facebook Bows To Peer Pressure


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(Taylor Buley, Forbes) The wisdom of the crowds has turned into peer pressure for Facebook.

Following criticism of its recently amended privacy policy, the social network reverted back to its former terms of service Wednesday.

"Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago," Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a note on the company's Web site. "Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised."

The hubbub over Facebook's terms of service erupted last weekend after the Consumer's Union's Consumerist.com blog posted an entry explaining what the terms of service changes would mean--basically, that Facebook would be able to use member messages, photos and other content even after the the member canceled his or her account. A privacy discussion in the blogosphere quickly came to a head.

Monday, Zuckerberg responded on the corporate blog. "We wouldn't share your information in a way you wouldn't want," he wrote. "The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work." Less than 36 hours later, Facebook recanted its position.

Maybe Facebook is learning from past mistakes. The company's Beacon advertising program, launched in late 2007, set off a storm of protests from members who were concerned that Facebook would provide advertisers with too much of their personal information. Facebook took about a month to respond to members' criticisms before making changes to Beacon.

"Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution," Zuckerberg wrote at the time. "It took us too long after people started contacting us to change the product."

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Mark Zuckerberg

Age: 23

Fortune: self made

Source: Facebook

Net Worth: $1.5 bil

Country Of Citizenship: United States

Residence: Palo Alto, California , United States, North America

Industry: Technology

Marital Status: single,

Education: Harvard University, Drop Out

Tech's newest golden boy founded addictive social networking site Facebook in February 2004 from his Harvard dorm room. Left school for Silicon Valley later that year; scored initial $500,000 investment from PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel. Venture firms soon swooned, among them Accel Partners and Greylock Partners. Today Facebook boasts 66 million active users. Estimated annual sales: $150 million. Expanding beyond being a college-only message system and photo album; now courting users to 55,000 different high school, business and city networks. Problems with privacy: installed "News Feed" in 2006; program automatically alerted users' friends to changes they made to their profiles. Outcry over privacy concerns led company to backpedal; Zuckerberg issued apology. Similar controversy ensued after release of Facebook Beacon late last year; program automatically alerted friends of activities on selected outside sites, including eBay and Fandango. Microsoft bought 1.6% stake for $240 million last October; deal led many to suggest the company is worth $15 billion. Some analysts—and even a few Facebook investors—suggest the company's value is far lower.

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WeN2K News Commentary:

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