Facebook Responds To Data Use Policy Vote, Confirms Changes

By Justin Lafferty 

Even though an overwhelming majority of voters wanted Facebook to keep its current data use policy and statement of rights and responsibilities, which would allow users to vote on changes, less than 1 percent of Facebook’s user base actually made their voices official — far short of the 30 percent needed to push the vote to favor the users. Facebook will instead implement a system where users can comment and discuss changes, with the company taking users’ sentiments into consideration.

In a note published Tuesday, Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of communications, public policy, and marketing, noted that the final tally resulted in 589,141 of the 668,872 voters in favor of keeping the documents that outline how personal data is used as-is.

Schrage also addressed the low voter turnout:

While participation in the vote was minimal, this experience illustrated the clear value of our notice and comment process. Your substantive feedback on our proposals during the seven-day comment period, along with discussions with our global regulators, resulted in clarifications and revisions to those proposals. For example, we added new language to clarify our proposed updates on sharing information with our affiliates and our privacy controls. After considering these factors, we have decided to adopt the proposed updates to our SRR and Data Use Policy. You can view the final documents, which will go into effect today, by using the following links: Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Data Use Policy.

We understand that many of you feel strongly about maintaining the participatory nature of our site governance process. We do, too. We believe that having a meaningful dialogue with our community through our notice and comment process is core to that effort moving forward. We also plan to explore and implement new, innovative, and effective ways to enhance this process in order to maximize user engagement.

Despite a Facebook email blast sent out to all users and stories on AllFacebook before and during the seven-day voting period, many readers of this site said that they did not know about the voting process at all. Facebook did try. By sending emails to its user base of more than 1 billion people, as well as providing continual updates in several languages through the Facebook Site Governance page, there were several efforts made to reach the people who use the site.

Facebook has said that it will offer more ways for users to interact with the site’s decision makers whenever changes are proposed, such as allowing people to ask Chief Privacy Officer of Policy Erin Egan about safety and privacy issues.

Here are the new documents Facebook will use:

Data Use Policy (click here to see the changes from the previous policy)

Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (click here to see the changes from the previous statement)

Readers: What specifically could Facebook to do improve upon this process?