Facebook Proposes Eliminating User Voting System for Privacy Changes

Type threatpost
Reporter Anne Saita
Modified 2013-04-17T16:31:12


Facebook today announced plans to eliminate its voting system that gave users a say in how their privacy is handled.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Elliot Schrage, Vice President, Communications, Public Policy and Marketing for the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social media company, said the voting system set in place in 2009 hasn’t worked as well as planned. It allowed users to publicly post comments on proposed changes to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SSR) and Terms of Use. If the site received 7,000 comments, users could then vote on alternatives — provided at least 30 percent of all active users participate. The site currently has 1 billion users.

Schrage said the system initially worked well but as of late had become a mere numbers game.

“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,” he wrote. “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.”

The company plans to keep its seven-day comment period open and hold a Q&A with its Chief Privacy Officer, but it did not say how privacy decisions would be made once the voting system is eliminated.

“We will also provide additional notification mechanisms, including email, for informing you of those changes,” Schrage said.

Other proposed updates include:

  • setting up new filters to manage incoming messages
  • making sure people understand where “hidden” posts may still appear (like others’ timelines or news feeds)
  • providing tips for deleting posts, activity logs and others’ posts where you’re tagged.