Facebook now allowing users to vote on privacy policy changes

Facebook allows vote on privacy policy

Thanks to pressure from privacy advocates, Facebook is once again allowing its nearly 1 billion users to vote on changes to its privacy policy, according to a company announcement released today. The last time Facebook agreed to hold such a vote was in 2009, when the social network claimed a userbase of just 200 million users.

Voting on the changes — which concern two different user documents, its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) and Data Use Policy — began today at 9am PT, and will close on June 8 at 9am PT.

The changes up for a vote are:

  • Updated language that clarifies that Facebook can use your data to serve you advertisements outside of Facebook’s Website.
  • The addition of a chart that shows users exactly how Facebook uses cookies
  • Updated language to better explain why Facebook retains user data

A full 30 percent of all active Facebook users — about 230 million people — must approve the changes for them to go into affect. If 30 percent of active users vote down the changes, Facebook will scrap them altogether. If at least 30 percent of users do not decisively vote one way or another, the Facebook will consider the changes “under advisory.”

To vote on the changes, click here.

The vote comes less than a month after Facebook proposed “improvements” to its privacy policy, including “enhancing transparency.” These changes were in response to an audit by Irish data-protection authorities last year. The audit was the result of a campaign, dubbed Europe v. Facebook, by 24-year-old Austrian law student Max Schrems, who last year filed dozens of complaints in Europe about Facebook’s privacy practices.

Also in response to Europe v. Facebook, the Palo Alto, California-based social network updated its “Download Your Information” feature to include a wider swath of data, including friend request history, IP addresses used to access Facebook, account status changes, and other information. Following this update, Schrems told The New York Times that he was still dissatisfied with Facebook’s privacy policies as it was “still not in line with the European Data Protection Law.”

For in depth explanations of the changes, click here (SRR), and here (Data Use Policy).

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