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Facebook Policy Vote: 10 Things To Know

5 Facebook Rivals Hot On Its Heels
5 Facebook Rivals Hot On Its Heels

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A little more than a month after you cast your ballot for the man who would (or would not) be president, it's time to get out the vote again. This time the platform is Facebook, and the stakes are the social network's data use policy and statement of rights and responsibilities. One of the issues you can weigh in on is whether you will be able to weigh in on Facebook issues in the future.

Confused? Here are 10 things you need to know.

1. Facebook is allowing its more than 1 billion users to vote, via online poll, on a variety of proposals.

2. You can vote to either keep things as they are or to accept proposed changes. Unlike voting up or down on individual questions, as you did on Nov. 6, you're voting one way or the other -- to keep the old or accept the new.

[ Users may like Facebook, but they don't necessarily trust it. See Facebook 'Privacy Notice' Has No Legs. ]

3. One of the things Facebook would like to change is the way it shares anonymous user information with its affiliates, partly in response to its recent acquisition of Instagram. "… as many people know, we recently acquired Instagram," said Facebook in explanation of the proposed change. "This provision covers Instagram and allows us to store Instagram's server logs and administrative records in a way that is more efficient than maintaining totally separate storage systems."

4. Another big issue is whether users can vote in the future. Facebook is proposing a change to its site governance process that would eliminate registered Facebook users' ability to vote on proposed changes. The existing Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities says, "If more than 7,000 users post a substantive comment on a particular proposed change, we will also give you the opportunity to participate in a vote in which you will be provided alternatives. The vote shall be binding on us if more than 30 percent of all active registered users as of the date of the notice vote." Facebook notes that in the recent past, voter turnout for proposed changes has been too low to reach this threshold.

5. Facebook is not proposing changes to the rules around ownership of content. "Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our SRR," said Facebook. "They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been. We're not proposing to change this key aspect of how Facebook works."

6. Facebook is adding clarifying language to its privacy and advertising policies. In the case of the former, it is adding language "reminding you of the difference between privacy settings (which let you decide who can see what you post anywhere on Facebook) and timeline visibility preferences (which impact how things show up on your timeline but don't impact other parts of Facebook, like news feed, relationship pages, or search results)."

In the case of the latter, Facebook is proposing new language to make it clearer that it shows users ads based on their likes and interests, which may include religious or political views. The new language, according to Facebook, "does not mean that we are changing our Advertising Guidelines, which prohibit advertisers from running ads that assert or imply sensitive personal characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation."

7. Facebook held a webinar on Dec. 4 to explain these and other proposed changes. The webinar is archived and can be accessed here.

8. A document that explains the changes is available here.

9. You have until Dec. 10 at 12 p.m. PST to vote. Once you cast your vote, you can access a graph that shows the current results. As of 6 a.m. EST Wednesday, the votes were 16,011 for accepting the proposed documents and 148,211 for keeping the existing documents.

10. Users can receive updates about any future proposed changes by liking Facebook's site governance page.

Bonus thing you need to know (and probably already do): Even if you can't "officially" vote in the future, you can always make your opinion about any existing or future policies known with likes, comments and updates to your own Timeline. This is social, after all.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

InformationWeek's last Enterprise Social Networking Survey found huge interest, widespread use -- and lukewarm satisfaction with the results from enterprise social networking. Now in its fifth year, our annual survey assesses the growth of enterprise social networking and its impact on internal and external operations. Take our Enterprise Social Networking Survey Survey now. Survey ends Dec. 7.