Facebook user voting changes at odds with privacy groups

Literally voting like your vote depends on it
Literally voting like your vote depends on it

The Facebook privacy hoax messages that have circulated the social network aren't real, but the proposed changes that it plans to make to the site governance document are.

These changes put Facebook at odds with privacy groups like Open Rights Group, which doesn't want to see an end to the user voting policy or modifications to messaging controls.

"Although the voting system has been criticized as window dressing," Open Rights Group Director Jim Killock told TechRadar, "it has at least acted as a break on unexpected changes."

That window dressing may also be at odds with a November 2011 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) deal in which Facebook agreed to introduce "opt in" privacy changes.

Killock is hoping the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office will be another agency that investigates Facebook over privacy changes.

"We will be writing to the Information Commissioner to ask them to examine the changes in privacy policy, and to coordinate their action with other data protection authorities," Killock said.

Privacy vote needs 30 percent participation

Facebook outlined the new privacy changes on its site governance page and, as per its policy, if the posts receive 7,000 user comments, a site-wide vote will be triggered.

Adding up all of the comments in various languages totals 85,920 and counting, a number that far exceeds the 7,000 user comments required.

But the measure isn't guaranteed to pass the site-wide vote. The vote is only binding if 30 percent of Facebook's 1 billion users cast a ballot.

Whether or not the Facebook privacy changes are a hot enough topic for 300 million users to vote, the changes are trending for Killock.

"The sharing of data across Instagram and Facebook is a change that not everyone will want," he said of the proposed shared-data change.

"However helpful it is to Facebook, users should have the right to choose how their data is used. They may not want more finely targeted ads, not for Facebook to be able to infer things about them."

When asked how users can do more to protect their privacy rights on social networking sites, Killock said "you should be asking your governments for fuller rights, especially to retrieve and remove your data from companies whenever you like.

"You should have the right to control your relationships with data businesses."

The Facebook privacy hoax

About the debunked Facebook privacy hoax that sparked a chain of bold, but fruitless ownership statements from users, Killock said the it "showed how worried people are."

"They clearly have a good idea about how vulnerable they are to arbitrary changes in policies from sites like Facebook."

Via BBC News

Matt Swider