Facebook proposes to end voting on privacy issues

NEW YORK — Facebook is proposing to end its practice of letting users vote on changes to its privacy policies, though it will continue to let users comment on proposed updates.

The world’s biggest social media company said in a blog post Wednesday that its voting mechanism, which is triggered only if enough people comment on proposed changes, has become a system that emphasizes quantity of responses over quality of discussion. Users tend to leave one or two-word comments objecting to changes instead of more in-depth responses.

Facebook said it will continue to inform users of “significant changes” to its privacy policy, called its data use policy, and to its statement of user rights and responsibilities. The company will keep its seven-day comment period and take users’ feedback into consideration.

“We will also provide additional notification mechanisms, including email, for informing you of those changes,” wrote Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of communications, public policy and marketing, in the post.

Facebook began letting users vote on privacy changes in 2009. Since then, it has gone public and its user base has ballooned from around 200 million to more than 1 billion. As part of the 2009 policy, users’ votes only count if more than 30 percent of all Facebook’s active users partake. That did not happen during either of the two times users voted and it’s unlikely that it will now, given that more than 300 million people would have to participate.

Jules Polonetsky, director of the Future of Privacy Forum, an industry-backed think tank in Washington, said the voting process was a “noble experiment” that didn’t lead to informed debate.

Facebook said in June that it was reviewing how to get the best feedback from users on its policies.

Facebook is also proposing changes to its data use policy, such as making it clear that when users hide a post or photo from their profile page, the “timeline,” those posts are not truly hidden and can be visible elsewhere, including on another person’s page.

Polonetsky called Facebook’s data use policy “kind of a good handbook” and a “reasonable read” on how to navigate the site’s complex settings.

But most people don’t read the privacy policies of websites they frequent, even Facebook’s.

“I certainly recommend that people read it, but most users just want to poke someone and like someone and look at a picture,” Polonetsky said.

Facebook’s task, he added, will be to continue to evolve its user interface — the part of the site that its users interact with — so that answers to questions are obvious and people don’t need to wade through the policy.

——

Online:

Blog post: https://www.facebook.com/fbsitegovernance/app—4949752878

More in Herald Business Journal

Boeing could help launch orbiting space station for the moon

“We should have a lunar base by now. What the hell has been going on?”

How the Airbus-Bombardier alliance could squeeze Boeing

“It makes Boeing look like they’ve been playing tic tac toe against a chess master,” says an analyst.

More self-awareness could help build a better medical system

Marcy Shimada of Edmonds Family Medicine writes the second in a series about fixing our health care system.

Scratch-and-sniff brochures aimed to prevent disaster

Puget Sound Energy has distributed more than a million scratch-and-sniff brochures to… Continue reading

Jewelry, accessories store Fuego opens second site in Snohomish County

Northwest-based jewelry, accessories and gifts store Fuego opened a new outlet store… Continue reading

Extreme cleaning company Steri-Clean opens in Mukilteo

The first Washington franchise of the Steri-Clean company will celebrate its grand… Continue reading

Justices to hear government’s email dispute with Microsoft

A lower court ruled emails in a drug case couldn’t be searched because they were in Ireland.

Negotiators give up hope of rewriting NAFTA this year

A fourth round of negotiations between the U.S., Mexico and Canada ended in mutual exasperation.

Facebook acquires TBH, an anonymous teen compliment app

TBH, short for “to be honest,” prompts users to answer polls about people they know.

Most Read