Facebook users have until Friday, June 8, at 9 a.m. PT, to vote on the social network’s proposed (and extensive) revisions to its statement of rights and responsibilities and data use policy, as announced on the Facebook Site Governance page.
Users who click on the Site Governance Vote tab on the Facebook Site Governance page are greeted by a brief introductory message (which is about the only brief message they will see throughout this process), and then, after clicking enter voting, they can access the following links:
- An explanation of changes to the SRR.
- The revised SSR as of April 20.
- An explanation of changes to the data use policy.
- The proposed data use policy as of May 11.
- The current SRR, dated April 26, 2011.
- The current data use policy, dated Sept. 23, 2011.
Once users are done perusing those documents (likely in a few hours), clicking continue takes them to the voting page, where they can choose between the proposed documents and the existing documents, and, in true Facebook tradition, their votes can be shared with their friends.
As we may have mentioned a few times, the documents are quite lengthy, so we will try to provide some highlights of the changes.
From the explanation of changes to the SRR:
To clarify the sharing of information about users’ friends by applications: If you, your friends, or members of your network use any third-party applications developed using the Facebook Platform (“platform applications”), those platform applications may access and share certain information about you with others in accordance with your privacy settings.
On changing its terminology from “hateful content” to “hate speech”: We think the term “hate speech” better captures our policy on prohibited content, which hasn’t changed. Sometimes discussions on Facebook include controversial content — even content that someone may view as “hateful.” While we allow discussion of controversial ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not tolerate hate speech. It is a violation of our terms to disparage an individual or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or medical condition. We are focused on fostering an environment where users can openly discuss issues while respecting the rights of others, and we believe this change to our guidelines reflects that principle. This is also consistent with our community standards.
On terminology changes due to the introduction of timeline: Since the last revision to our data use policy, we launched Facebook timeline. Therefore, we’re changing “profile” to “timeline” and “post” to “story” throughout the data use policy and including references to features, like cover photos, that work with timeline.
Users’ genders and cover photos being publicly available: In these sections, we’ve stated the kinds of information about you that are always public. For instance, your gender is public information, and we use your gender throughout the site to refer to you properly. And, as we’ve explained throughout the data use policy, your gender is shared with apps so that they can refer to you properly, as well. You will still be able to hide your gender on your timeline. In addition, cover photos are a new part of the Facebook experience, and we’re updating the data use policy to let you know that, just like your profile pictures, your cover photos are public. If you’re uncomfortable with making your profile pictures or cover photos public, you can always delete them.
Data retention: In addition, we’ve added new language that explains our overall commitment around data retention: We will retain data for as long as necessary to provide services to users and others. This broader commitment applies to all data we collect and receive about you, including information from advertisers. With respect to advertisers, those relationships are evolving because of the different services we provide. We will continue to retain data received from advertisers for 180 days where that length of time is necessary to provide services. But there may be some times when we will need to keep information that we get from an advertiser for longer than 180 days. For example, if an advertiser creates a Facebook page, we wouldn’t delete information the advertiser puts on its page simply because 180 days had passed. Instead, we would delete it when it was no longer needed — when the page owner deleted it or closed its account. The revisions in this section do not change our commitment that we won’t share information that personally identifies you with advertisers without your permission.
Mobile privacy: Since more people than ever are using Facebook on their mobile phones, we thought it was important to add more information about how Facebook works on mobile devices. As part of mobile integrations, other users may sync or save information you’ve shared with them to their mobile devices — such as contact information or event information from a calendar invite. We have included a tip to remind you that you should only share information with people you trust because they may be able to store or reshare that information, including by syncing it with a mobile device.
Information shared with apps: We’ve added language here to clarify the type of information apps receive when you install them. We describe the limited categories of information that Facebook tells apps when you first visit them. If an app wants additional information, they must get your permission. If you do this, the app can access, store, and update that information. Once you haven’t used the app for a while, however, that app won’t be able to continue updating this additional information until you give it permission again. In addition, we’ve added a tip to remind you that apps have their own policies around how they handle the data they receive, and that you should contact an app directly if you want your information deleted.
Facebook Vice President of Communications, Public Policy, and Marketing Elliot Schrage posted a note about the voting, and here are some highlights:
Since 2009, we have continued to take unprecedented steps to promote understanding and enable participation on the Web. Each time we’ve proposed changes to our statement of rights and responsibilities and data use policy, we have presented them to you first to read and provide comments and feedback, which we incorporate into our revisions. In fact, since beginning this process, we have processed more than 150,000 comments on proposed policies and made dozens of substantive changes in response. We take your insights and concerns seriously.
In March, we restarted this process by posting revised versions of our SRR and data use policy for notice and comment. We proposed changes to these documents to, among other things, improve them by adding examples and detailed explanations to help you better understand our policies and practices, comply with the law, incorporate feedback from regulators and individuals like you, and reflect the addition of new products and services like Facebook timeline.
Since then, we reviewed your comments and incorporated your feedback into some of the proposed changes. The comment period for submitting feedback has ended, but you can still have a role in helping to shape the policies that will govern Facebook. Today we are posting the proposed revised versions of both documents and asking you to join our second global site governance vote. Voting will be facilitated by an application developed on Facebook Platform by Wildfire Interactive, and an independent auditor will examine the vote tabulation to further ensure accurate results.
As stated in both policies, if more than 30 percent of all active registered users vote, the results will be binding. If turnout is less than 30 percent, the vote will be advisory.
Readers: Got all that? Have you made a decision yet between the existing documents or the revised ones?