Facebook Asks Users To Comment On, But Not Vote For, Policy Changes

By Justin Lafferty 

Facebook announced Wednesday that it is mulling changes to its data use policy and its statement of rights and responsibilities, asking users to chime in. The data use policy explains how the site collects and uses information from Facebook members, and the statement of rights and responsibilities explains the terms governing the use of Facebook’s services. Users have until 9 a.m. PT Nov. 28 to comment on these proposed changes, but they may not be able to vote on them.

Originally, Facebook allowed users to vote on changes, but it has done away with that method for these proposed alterations. As noted in the changes to both documents, previously, changes would go into effect after two actions: if there were more than 7,000 comments, and then if the changes received the vote of at least 30 percent of Facebook’s active users. With roughly 1 billion people on the site, that’s not exactly feasible.

When Facebook proposed similar policy changes in June, allowing users to vote, only 0.038 percent of the site’s population chimed in.

Facebook is instead allowing users to comment or like these proposed changes, then the site will take comments under consideration.

Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of communications, public policy, and marketing, wrote why the company is considering taking away the vote. He noted that the site will have other ways Facebook users can speak their mind, including a way for users to ask Chief Privacy Officer of Policy Erin Egan about issues:

As a result of this review, we are proposing to restructure our site-governance process. We deeply value the feedback we receive from you during our comment period. In the past, your substantive feedback has led to changes to the proposals we made. However, we found that the voting mechanism, which is triggered by a specific number of comments, actually resulted in a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality. Therefore, we’re proposing to end the voting component of the process in favor of a system that leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement.

Schrage also noted some of the changes proposed in the updated data use policy:

  • New tools for managing Facebook messages – replacing the “Who can send you Facebook messages” setting with new filters for managing incoming messages.
  • Changes to how Facebook refers to certain products, like instant personalization.
  • Reminders about what’s visible to other people on Facebook. For instance, when you hide things from your timeline, those posts are visible elsewhere, like in news feed, on other people’s timelines, or in search results.
  • Tips on managing your timeline. For example, you can use tools on your timeline or activity log to delete your own posts, or you can ask someone else to delete a post in which you’re tagged.

View all of these important documents by clicking here.

Readers: What do you think about these changes? Should the vote be opened up?

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock.