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Facebook adopts new privacy policy

Lacking the minimum 7,000 commenters needed for a vote, policy changes go into effect unchallenged

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
November 18, 2009
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/be5

Facebook Site Governance PageOn Tuesday night, Facebook announced that it has adopted its revised privacy policy changes, without the need to submit the changes to the site's user base for a vote. Facebook said that if 7,000 users commented on the proposal revision, then it would organize a poll, wherein all the site's users could vote on whether or not to approve the changes. The 7,000 user limit was not met.

An example of the kind of changes going into effect is published at the bottom of this post.

Though the vote won't be happening, Facebook says it will still take into account popular ideas and suggestions expressed in the comments that it did receive. For example, from now on, whenever Facebook decides to amend its policy, changes will be visible to users in redline, so the exact differences are completely transparent. With promises like these, most users probably won't get too fired up about policy changes.

Of course, the dissenters made it out to the blog post in full force, some making interesting points:

"Roflmao... 7000 comments needed to vote? Are you serious? The majority of facebook users didn't even know there were impending changes, and don't know you just adopted them," cried out one user, named TJ Marx. "If you truly wanted to be transparent and open you wouldn't require users to 'Fan' a page in order to get updates and announcements which will affect the way you deal with their privacy or otherwise govern the site. Your current system is NOT transparent and open. It is a half ***** attempted [sic] to LOOK transparent and open without actually needing to be that way."

In spite of his silly acronym introduction and briefly vulgar language, Mr. Marx makes a valid point. If Facebook wished to be truly open about its policy changes and did not fear a massive user response to such changes, the site could have easily emailed all Facebook users about the proposed changes. Requiring users to 'fan' a page does indeed spark some skepticism about the site's true intentions.

Either way, the changes will go into effect, whether users like it or not. If you are a Facebook user who would like to stay up-to-date on all the latest changes to Facebook and its privacy policy, be sure to become a fan of the Facebook Site Governance Page.

Here is one example of the changes to come:

Old:

When you update information, we usually keep a backup copy of the prior version for a reasonable period of time to enable reversion to the prior version of that information... Even after removal, copies of User Content may remain viewable in cached and archived pages or if other Users have copied or stored your User Content... Access and control over most personal information on Facebook is readily available through the profile editing tools. Facebook users may modify or delete any of their profile information at any time by logging into their account. Information will be updated immediately. Individuals who wish to deactivate their Facebook account may do so on the My Account page. Removed information may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time but will not be generally available to members of Facebook.

New:

Viewing and editing your profile. You may change or delete your profile information at any time by going to your profile page and clicking "Edit My Profile." Information will be updated immediately. While you cannot delete your date of birth, you can use the setting on the info tab of your profile information page to hide all or part of it from other users.

Deactivating or deleting your account. If you want to stop using your account you may deactivate it or delete it. When you deactivate an account, no user will be able to see it, but it will not be deleted. We save your profile information (friends, photos, interests, etc.) in case you later decide to reactivate your account. Many users deactivate their accounts for temporary reasons and in doing so are asking us to maintain their information until they return to Facebook. You will still have the ability to reactivate your account and restore your profile in its entirety. When you delete an account, it is permanently deleted. You should only delete your account if you are certain you never want to reactivate it. You may deactivate your account on your account settings page or delete your account on this help page.

Limitations on removal. Even after you remove information from your profile or delete your account, copies of that information may remain viewable elsewhere to the extent it has been shared with others, it was otherwise distributed pursuant to your privacy settings, or it was copied or stored by other users. However, your name will no longer be associated with that information on Facebook. (For example, if you post something to another user's profile, and then you delete your account, that post may remain, but be attributed to an "Anonymous Facebook User.") Additionally, we may retain certain information to prevent identity theft and other misconduct even if deletion has been requested.


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