Facebook privacy policy now open to public vote

Dec 3, 2012
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Facebook privacy policy now open to public vote

Learn how to vote on Facebook's privacy policies and you can make the social network your own - wouldn't that be amazing? In reality, Facebook will be opening up a collection of privacy policy changing votes that will be open to the public (so long as you've got a Facebook profile) from now until December 10th. This vote is being relegated by an independent auditor and may - or may not - actually have an effect on the way those inside Facebook make their decisions regarding said privacy policies - sound like a square deal to you?

The proposed policy changes work with how Facebook handles your data, Instagram bits and pieces, and the possibility of nixing the ability of users like you to vote in this manner in the first place. Each of the changes up for vote this week were proposed just over a week ago and were quickly the subject of controversy at the hands of privacy groups asking Facebook to halt everything top to bottom. Facebook has instead decided, again, to put it all up to a vote.

The rules being voted on are outlined in a rather simple way by Facebook's Vice President of Public Policy and Marketing Elliot Schrage. The policy changes proposed are outlined as follows:

Ownership of your content. A number of the comments suggested that we were changing ownership of your content on Facebook. We're not. This is not true and has never been the case. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our SRR. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been. We're not proposing to change this key aspect of how Facebook works.

Privacy controls. In our latest set of updates, we proposed to add language reminding you of the difference between privacy settings (which let you decide who can see what you post anywhere on Facebook) and timeline visibility preferences (which impact how things show up on your timeline but don't impact other parts of Facebook, like news feed, relationship pages, or search results). Some people asked if this means we're removing controls you currently have over who can see the things you post. We are not. We simply added this language to further explain how these privacy settings and timeline preferences work. In response to your feedback, however, we're adding additional language to remind you that you can delete things you post or change the audience at any time.

Advertising policies. We've always been clear that we are able to provide free services by showing you ads that are relevant to your interests, and we use your posts - including pages you like - to help show these ads. We proposed new language to make it clearer that those likes and posts include topics like religion or political views. This language does not mean that we are changing our Advertising Guidelines, which prohibit advertisers from running ads that assert or imply sensitive personal characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. We've added additional language, including a link to our guidelines, to this proposal to make that clearer.

The proposed change that would get rid of user voting was suggested recently because of the utter massiveness of the social network and the quickness with which it's grown since the democratic process was put in place back in 2009. Back then Facebook had closer to 200 million users and the first vote like the one going on now was just 665,654 votes strong - just that many people decided to participate, that is.

The second large vote such as this happened in June with 900 million possible voters turning up as 342,632 actual voters in the end. Now with that total number of Facebook users in all ramping up faster than ever - more than a billion exist amongst Facebook's ranks - a binding vote would have to be beastly. The rule notes that for a vote to become "binding" - that is, considered by the council that makes the rules - a Facebook rules vote would require "more than 30 percent of all active registered users" to participate. Think you can get 300 million voters to turn out inside Facebook?

[via Facebook]


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