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Facebook’s Proposed Policy Changes Includes Plans to Get Rid of the Policy Vote



“In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!”

I feel so much safer now that I’ve made that public. Those robbers at Facebook won’t be able to take advantage of me now. The photos I posted of my turkey dinner are mine, all mine and Facebook will not profit from them!

What’s sad is, people really believe that posting that message on their newsfeed will help them block the latest potential policy changes at Facebook. It won’t and neither will your negative vote.

In case you’re not up on all things Facebook, let me tell you a story. Every time Facebook plans to make a change their Terms of Service and policies, they post the change to the Facebook Site Governance page and ask users to “vote” for or against by leaving your “relevant” comment prior to a specific date.

Every time, they got back a long list of people complaining about how Facebook is invading their privacy and exerting too much control. It’s weird. It’s as if Facebook actually expects people to post statements such as, “yes, please do allow advertisers to have access to all my data, it’s wonderful!”

I suppose they did it to prove how open and interested they are in how the users feel about the site. Nice try, but we’re on to you.

And so, Facebook’s latest round of changes, which you can comment on by Nov 28, includes this statement:

Improving the Site Governance Process: Our goal has always been to find ways to effectively engage your views when we propose changes to our governing policies. That commitment guided our decision in 2009 to launch an unprecedented process for user feedback. When we held our second global site governance vote in June, we indicated that we would review our site governance process in light of the growth of both our community – to over one billion users – and our company – which is now publicly traded and accountable to regulators around the world. Our intention was to make sure the process still served its original purpose.

As a result of this review, we are proposing to restructure our site governance process. We deeply value the feedback we receive from you during our comment period. In the past, your substantive feedback has led to changes to the proposals we made. However, we found that the voting mechanism, which is triggered by a specific number of comments, actually resulted in a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality. Therefore, we’re proposing to end the voting component of the process in favor of a system that leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement.

So, they would like you to vote on eliminating the vote. All in favor?

They want to replace the review system with this:

Ask the Chief Privacy Officer. We’ll be launching a new feature on our Facebook and Privacy Page to let you submit questions about privacy to our Chief Privacy Officer of Policy, Erin Egan.

Facebook Live Events. Erin Egan will host webcasts on a regular basis to address your comments and questions about privacy, safety and security.

Sounds good to me, but I’d hate to be the person who has to moderate those chats.

As for the actual policy changes, they mostly come down to changes in the language dictated by the legal department, no doubt. But there are a few interesting line items hidden in the mix.

“New tools for managing your Facebook Messages – replacing the “Who can send you Facebook messages” setting with new filters for managing incoming messages.”

Without seeing the new filters, this is hard to gauge, but my guess is that they’re opening the system up to allow more marketing messages to be sent your way unless you check a specific box.

“Reminders about what’s visible to other people on Facebook. For instance, when you hide things from your timeline, those posts are visible elsewhere, like in news feed, on other people’s timelines, or in search results.”

I hope I’m reading this one right. I get that if I hide a post in my feed that doesn’t remove it from everyone’s feed, that would be silly. But I assume it hides from anyone who looks at MY newsfeed. Does that make sense? I follow a few people who post inappropriate messages now and then so I hide them but am I only hiding them from my eyes and not the eyes of visitors?

Finally, there’s this:

Sometimes we get data from our affiliates or our advertising partners, customers and other third parties that helps us (or them) deliver ads, understand online activity, and generally make Facebook better. For example, an advertiser may tell us information about you (like how you responded to an ad on Facebook or on another site) in order to measure the effectiveness of – and improve the quality of – ads.

The change in this paragraph is the addition of the words “our affiliates.” I’m told this means products or services they now own such as Instagram. Not surprising or unexpected that Facebook would open up the data flow between all of their owned properties.

Overall, there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just Facebook protecting themselves legally while they continue to use your data every way they can to help them woo advertisers. Business as usual.