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Facebook Asked by Privacy Groups to Stop Proposed Policy Changes

Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg was asked by two privacy groups to withdraw proposed changes to the company’s governing documents, saying they raise risks to members’ data.

Facebook shouldn’t roll back voting options for users, shift controls on messaging or combine data from affiliates, including newly acquired mobile photo-sharing service Instagram, said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and Jeffrey Chester, president of the Center for Digital Democracy, in a letter to Zuckerberg. Facebook proposed modifications to its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and its data-use policy last week.

“These proposed changes raise privacy risks for users,” the letter said. “We urge you to withdraw the proposed changes.”

The company, owner of the world’s largest social-networking website, has come under scrutiny around the world since announcing the policy revisions. Irish regulators who oversee Facebook in the European Union sought “urgent” clarifications from Facebook last week, according to Gary Davis, Ireland’s deputy data-protection commissioner.

Among other things, the changes would give users more detailed information about shared data, including reminders about what’s visible to other people on Facebook.

Member Information

Until now, Facebook has allowed members to vote on changes in cases where users show enough interest. Now it’s looking to end potential votes while introducing new ways to inform members on changes and continuing to seek their feedback.

“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,” Elliot Schrage, vice president of communications, public policy and marketing, wrote in a blog post when the proposed changes were announced.

Andrew Noyes, spokesman for the Menlo Park, California-based company, declined to comment on the letter.

Facebook rose 8.1 percent to $25.94 at the New York close. The stock has fallen 32 percent since the company’s initial public offering in May.

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