Facebook’s proposed policy changes: VOTE

Your voice. Your vote.

Facebook has proposed a number of policy changes to their “Data Use Policy” and their “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” (SRR). Users have been given the ability to vote on whether they want these proposed changes to go ahead or not. The result of this vote is only binding if at least 30% of all of Facebook’s over 1 billion active users vote, otherwise it is only “suggestive”.

Unfortunately, Facebook has made it difficult to see what exactly the changes are. The only way is to actually read through all four documents: the proposed and current SRRs, and the proposed and current Data Use Policies. To help you make an informed decision in your vote, I’ve gone through them both and highlighted the important changes for you.

If you wish to read these documents yourself:

Facebook’s current Data Use Policy

Facebook’s proposed Data Use Policy

Facebook’s current SRR

Facebook’s proposed SRR

If you want to go and vote on the decision, and I strongly encourage you to do so, then please go to The Vote Page by clicking here. Make sure you do so before 10th December, 2012, because that is the deadline (12:00 PM PST, or 20:00/8:00 PM UTC). Do it at some time on the 9th or earlier to be safe.

The first, and in my opinion most important, change made is the removal of the following statement that was present in the original SRR. A similar removal was made from the Data Use Policy.

If more than 7,000 users post a substantive comment on a particular proposed change, we will also give you the opportunity to participate in a vote in which you will be provided alternatives. The vote shall be binding on us if more than 30% of all active registered users as of the date of the notice vote.

This means that future changes would not be subject to a vote in the same way that this one is.

They have also removed some of the control over Facebook email, and who can control what gets sent. In the following quote, all but the first sentence was removed (the part struck out did not exist on the proposed document).

Your Facebook email address includes your public username like so: username@facebook.com. You can control who can start a message thread with you using your “How You Connect” settings. If they include others on that message, the others can reply too.

The following few quotes were added in which seem to simply clarify practices already undertaken by Facebook, rather than actually changing Facebook policy.

When you hide things on your timeline, like posts or connections, it means those things will not appear on your timeline. But, remember, anyone in the audience of those posts or who can see a connection may still see it elsewhere, like on someone else’s timeline or in search results. You can also delete or change the audience of content you post.

And

But remember that people can still find you or a link to your timeline on Facebook through other people and the things they share about you or through other posts, like if you are tagged in a friend’s photo or post something to a public page.

And

As described in the what your friends and others share about you section of this policy, your friends and others may share information about you. They may share photos or other information about you and tag you in their posts. If you do not like a particular post, tell them or report the post.

In addition, they are now more clear about which pieces of information—which you have already provided them—they may use in order to show you more relevant ads.

If you indicate that you are interested in topics, such as by liking a Page, including topics such as products, brands, religion, health status, or political views, you may see ads related to those topics as well. We require advertisers to comply with our Advertising Guidelines, including provisions relating to the use of sensitive data. Try this tool yourself to see one of the ways advertisers target ads and what information they see at:https://www.facebook.com/ads/create/

Other clarifications regarding users who violate the terms of service:

We also may retain information from accounts disabled for violations of our terms for at least a year to prevent repeat abuse or other violations of our terms.

Finally, they add new information about Facebook “affiliates”, which include Facebook-owned properties like Instagram, Facebook Inc., and Facebook Ireland Ltd

We may share information we receive with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Facebook is part of, or that become part of that group (often these companies are called affiliates). Likewise, our affiliates may share information with us as well. This sharing is done in compliance with applicable laws including where such applicable laws require consent. We and our affiliates may use shared information to help provide, understand, and improve our services and their own services.

I hope that this summary of the changes helps you to make an informed decision on whether you believe the proposed changes benefit Facebook or not; and regardless of whether you prefer the current documents or the proposed changes, I hope that you will vote for your preferred choice. Please share this information with as many people as you can in order to try and reach the immense goal of over 300 million votes and make this referendum binding.

Click here to go to the voting page and cast your vote!