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Waugh reports: "Facebook has sent all its users an email this week about a vote on its proposed changes to Data Use Policy - the site's term for its privacy policy."

File photo Facebook logo-computer screen montage, 06/15/09. (photo: Google/file)
File photo Facebook logo-computer screen montage, 06/15/09. (photo: Google/file)

Facebook's Privacy Vote: What the Email Actually Means

By Rob Waugh, Yahoo! News

07 December 12


acebook has sent all its users an email this week about a vote on its proposed changes to Data Use Policy - the site's term for its privacy policy.

The dry, quietly worded email is more significant than it sounds.

Unless 300 million people (a third of Facebook's users) vote ‘against' by Monday 8pm GMT, the networking giant will no longer allow users to vote on policy changes.

The move has caused concern among privacy groups, who say it's "impossible" for 300 million to vote in the time period, and that users are worried that their "voices will no longer be heard".

So far, the vote stands at less than half a million, but is around six to one against the new Statement of Rights and Data Usage Policy.

The wording of the vote itself is not a simple 'Yes' or 'No' – to vote against, users have to select, ‘Existing Documents: The current SRR and Data Use Policy,' as opposed to ‘Proposed Documents: The proposed SRR and Data Use Policy'

The voting page is here.

Privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation's Activism Director Rainey Reitman says, "The voting system currently in place doesn't work; it is simply impossible to get 30% of the users (300 million individuals) to vote on anything on Facebook within 30 days."

"The overwhelming majority of users participating in the vote right now are voting against removing the voting system."

"We believe this shows that Facebook users are concerned that their voices will not be heard, and do not want to lose the ability have a say in site governance. While the vote may never end up binding Facebook, voters are sending a message about a serious concern, and one we hope Facebook respects and responds to."

Facebook claims that the change is to streamline 'voting' in favour of a system that allows "meaningful feedback".

Elliot Schrage, Vice-President of Communications said, "We're proposing to end the voting component of the process in favor of a system that leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement."

The site says, "Voting will end on December 10 at 8:00PM. If more than 30% of all active registered users vote, the results will be binding. If turnout is less than 30%, the vote will be advisory." your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+36 # DaveM 2012-12-07 23:12
If Facebook is to continue to act as a private surveillance service, they could at least start to police users who harass and abuse others using the service. Activity up to and including conduct that would constitute a crime if perpetrated anywhere else is not only permitted by Facebook, there isn't even an effective way to report offenders (the "report" function on Facebook appears to be a placebo).

Facebook does have competition. If it is unable to deal with abusive users, I expect it will not be long before the well-behaved folks, who are the vast majority of users and the chief source of its revenue, will go elsewhere.

It's happened will happen again.
+28 # fuzzbuzz 2012-12-08 00:17
Or..just stop using Facebook
+11 # Vegan_Girl 2012-12-08 05:40
Thanks for the article. It made the difference in my case, I just voted.
+4 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2012-12-08 10:17
Quoting Vegan_Girl:
Thanks for the article. It made the difference in my case, I just voted.

Ditto !!
+4 # michele6933 2012-12-08 21:21
Yes, so did I , voted AGAINST changes. The L.A.Times also had a good synopsis of what FB proposes, in everyday language.
+23 # MsAnnaNOLA 2012-12-08 07:23
I refuse to participate in the idiocy that is Facebook. I have resisted and I think it would not add to my life. The Beacon "feature" was enough to have me boycott them. It showed total disregard for customer privacy. It was also long before going public.

Remember if you are not paying for a service, you are not the customer. You are the product. Who are they selling your data to? There is no way to know...every corporation, probably intelligence agencies. Why give away all this info. I don't like it one bit.

We are up in arma about the govt spying on us without a warrant and then we go ahead and let them have access to e erything. It is nuts.
+3 # michele6933 2012-12-08 21:24
The smarter among us will not give true data .
+15 # hobbesian 2012-12-08 07:42
They sent this not only to their member/users; I am not a member but nary a day goes by without an intrusion by Facebook into my email inbox. Every day I have to consign them to junk but they don't stay junked; they have some way of getting round this wall and into my darned inbox. I don't have time to waste on their services, am capable of keeping contact with those friends I want to. I don't care what happens to them but I wish they would confine their email pesterings to only their own members.
-2 # RnR 2012-12-08 08:55
Maybe they can also practice mail bombing in honor of the drone strikes...what do you say Facebook??
+11 # Rascalndear 2012-12-08 11:46
I have to say that (1) Facebook is a remarkably easy way to stay in touch with people I could not otherwise see because they live thousands of miles away, (2) it's a much better paradigm for ongoing conversations compared to the constant repetitiveness and backwards order of e-mails, (3) It's a great way to share photos, better than any other service I have tried, and (4) I have had neither spam nor viruses as a result of using it (although I'm on a Mac, which also helps).

On the other hand, people should take some responsibility for what they share in FB. Showing nude pictures of yourself online is stupid at best unless you're a hooker looking for clients. Anybody who doesn't realize the risk involved is unbelievably stupid. Especially if the person you're sharing with is only a virtual friend, but that's not the key point. I think if people imagined lots of strangers seeing their nude pictures or videos, they might wake up and stop posting them. I, for one, rarely post even ordinary pictures that include friends precisely because I don't want to invade their privacy. I would never DREAM of posting anything risque about myself or anyone I know.
+1 # readerz 2012-12-09 22:29
If you have a webcam, at least turn it to face the wall unless you want to broadcast yourself all the time.

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