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Facebook friendsFacebook has enraged tens of thousands of members by changing its terms of use on without consultation or advance notice. Its new licensing agreement removes a clause allowing users to delete permanently any uploaded content. Critics say it means the site will retain the material and keep the right to use it even if a user has cancelled his or her membership.

The social networking site was last night caught in a privacy storm after granting itself rights to users’ photos, wall posts and all other information forever. Facebook’s licensing paragraph now states the following:
Licenses
You are solely responsible for the User Content that you Post on or through the Facebook Service. You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof. You represent and warrant that you have all rights and permissions to grant the foregoing licenses.

If you own or control a website, you may place Facebook’s share link button, logo and/or text (a "Share Link"), including all trademarks therein, on your website for the sole purpose of enabling users to Post links or content from your website on the Facebook Service. By offering a Share Link on your website, you agree, represent and warrant that you will not place a Share Link on any page containing content that would violate these Terms if Posted on the Facebook Service. The rights granted in this paragraph may be revoked by us at any time in our sole discretion, and upon such termination, you will immediately remove all Share Links from your website.”

“While I can understand Facebook’s issue, failure to see this earlier will undoubtedly test the trust of it’s members," said Martin Warner, CEO and Co-founder of the business networking site Talkbiznow.com.   It also will be off putting to many members that enjoy the choice of deleting their existence at any point.”

More than 70,000 people have joined Facebook groups to protest at the retrospective changes. They say it could mean embarrassing or offensive material posted about them on the site will be kept and used again by Facebook, even if it had been removed. Material could even be used for what Facebook, which has 175million users, calls ‘public performances.’