Facebook Adopts Proposed Revisions To Statement Of Rights And Responsibilities, Data Use Policy

By David Cohen 

Despite the woefully low participation by Facebook users in Facebook’s vote on proposed revisions to its statement of rights and responsibilities and data use policy, the social network elected to adopt the updates.

Only 342,632 of Facebook’s 900 million-plus users had voted, or 0.038 percent, by the deadline last Friday at 9 a.m. PT. The social network had announced that a response rate of 30 percent was needed to make the results binding.

Facebook Vice President of Communications, Public Policy, and Marketing Elliot Schrage explained the decision to move forward with the updates in a note on the Facebook Site Governance page:

An outside auditor has now reviewed and confirmed the final results, which show that approximately 297,883 people recommended that we keep our existing SRR and data use policy. Despite our significant efforts to encourage users to vote, only 342,632 people participated, which amounts to a tiny fraction of our user base of more than 900 million. As stated in both governing documents and throughout this process, when less than 30 percent of all active registered users vote, the results are advisory. Facebook will adopt the proposed updates to our statement of rights and responsibilities and data use policy, which you can view by using the following links: SRR and data use policy. We considered a number of factors in making this decision.

We strongly believe these updates provide you with more detail and transparency about our data protections and practices. We received a great deal of positive feedback about these changes from our regulators and the many other stakeholders — including privacy and consumer groups — we consulted about these revisions. Most of the changes clarify rather than fundamentally change our standards. Many of the changes simply reflect recently launched products or conform language between our various policies. More significantly, the changes incorporate recommendations made by our regulators, including the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s Office.

Despite our substantial outreach effort, the number of people who voted constituted such a small and unrepresentative percentage of our user community. We made significant efforts to make voting easy and accessible — including translating the documents and voting application into several of the world’s most popular languages and providing extensive notice through users’ news feeds and desktop and mobile advertisements. There has also been widespread media attention and coverage of our notice and comment and voting process.

Given these efforts and the subsequent turnout, we plan to review this process to determine how to maximize our ability to promote user engagement and participation in our site governance process in the future.

Since transparent governance and user participation are critical values for us, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in this process by voting and providing feedback on the proposed changes. We value the feedback we have received from you during the voting process and our notice and comment period. We will take it into serious consideration for any future changes we contemplate to these two documents and as we continue to develop our service.

Thank you again for your involvement in this process. Don’t forget to like the Facebook Site Governance page to be notified of future proposed changes to the SRR and data use policy.

Readers: What further steps should Facebook take to get more of its users involved in the process?