Facebook opens up vote on new terms of service

Social-networking site is encouraging users to vote on whether a proposed TOS culled from user feedback should replace the existing terms of service.

Facebook invites users to vote on the site's terms of service. Facebook

Following Facebook's privacy debacle earlier this year, the social-networking site is encouraging users to vote on whether a proposed terms of service culled from user feedback should replace the existing terms of service.

In a blog posting Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg encouraged users to review documents posted to the site that contain proposed changes to the site's terms of service (TOS) based on user feedback along side the current TOS:

If these new documents are approved, all future changes to the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities will go through the same process of notice and comment, and may be put to a vote if enough people comment. Even if these new proposed documents are defeated, we will still find ways to involve you in the governance process; however, this involvement will need to be explicitly stated in a future version of the Terms of Use.

Users will have until noon PDT on April 23 to cast their vote, and the result will be binding if 30 percent of active Facebook users participate in the vote, Zuckerberg wrote. In the first few hours of voting, the proposed documents were beating the existing one by nearly 3 to 1, but fewer than 8,000 people had voted. Considering Facebook recently announced that it had surpassed 200 million active users , nearly 70 million users will need to participate to make the vote binding.

The voting is in response to a privacy flap that erupted in February after Facebook announced changes to its terms of service that had meant that its license on user content--a longstanding but little-publicized claim to an "irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license" for promotional efforts--would no longer expire if a member deleted his or her Facebook account.

But facing a revolt from thousands of users and a threatened federal complaint from the Electronic Privacy Information, the social-networking service returned to its previous terms.

In response, Zuckerberg announced in February that future changes in the Facebook agreements with users would be put up for open debate in a process of "notice and comment." The forum would be open to all Facebook users, and if Facebook proposes a modification to a term of service that is uncontroversial or has limited feedback, it will get incorporated into the user agreement after a stated period of time.

 

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