Facebook Site Governance Vote Ends, Not Enough To Stop Proposed Changes

Facebook last week ended the one-week period for its global site governance vote on proposed updates to its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) and Data Use Policy.

According to Elliot Schrage, VP of Communications, Public Policy and Marketing at Facebook, they had an external auditor reexamine and verify the results: 668,872 people voted and 589,141 recommended to keep Facebook’s existing SRR and Data Use Policy.

The company said it ramped up efforts to advise users via email and newsfeeds on voting, but the number of votes failed to meet the requirements.

Earlier this month, privacy advocates raised concerns on the proposed changes to Facebook’s governing documents for privacy policy in a live video stream with company policy experts.

Facebook Site Governance Vote Ends, Not Enough To Stop Proposed Changes

Image: West McGowan via Flickr (CC)

The Facebook DC Talks LIVE page streamed a discussion that lasted over half an hour of questions and answers between three Facebook employees: Sarah Feinberg, Director of Policy Communications and host of the conversation, Katherine Tassi, Head of Data Protection at Facebook Ireland, and Rob Sherman, Manager of Privacy and Public Policy.

“We made substantial efforts to inform our users and encourage them to vote, both through emails and their news feeds. Despite these efforts and widespread media coverage, less than one percent of our user community of more than one billion participated. As stated in both policies, the results are advisory unless more than 30% of users vote,” said Schrage.

Facebook said the minimal participation in the voting mechanism still showed clear value of its notification and comment process.

Schrage said the substantive feedback on the proposals over the one-week comment period and discussions with global regulators for company policies led to 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,” said Schrage.

On November 27, Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and Jeffrey Chester, president of the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), wrote a joint letter (PDF) urging Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to review the changes on his social network. A week earlier, Schrage revealed the social network’s proposal to make some changes on two documents that govern its site.

“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,” said Schrage.

“Thank you again for participating in our site governance process. We hope you’ll stay vocal and involved. You can like the Facebook and Privacy Page to learn more about upcoming opportunities to communicate with us about protecting your information on Facebook. Additionally, you can like the Facebook Site Governance Page to be notified of future proposed changes to our SRR and Data Use Policy.”

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Francis Rey Balolong

A coffee junkie who spends most of his time writing about the latest news on social media and mobile technology. I would definitely consider myself a nerd (in the coolest most hipster way possible). That being said, I love technology, music, writing, and all things mobile. Follow me: Google+ Twitter

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