Facebook Invites Users to Vote on Proposed Data Changes

Facebook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. is letting users vote on whether they should get to cast ballots before future changes to policies for privacy and data-collection, following pressure from regulators to improve transparency.

More than 30 percent of the company’s more than 1 billion members need to vote in favor of retaining their voting rights for Facebook to continue the practice, the Menlo Park, California-based company said in a post on its website. If that threshold isn’t met, Facebook said it would be non-binding.

Facebook, owner of the world’s largest social network, last month proposed rolling back voting options for users, shifting controls on messaging and combining data from affiliates, including newly acquired mobile photo-sharing service Instagram. Privacy groups, including Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy, sent a letter to Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg asking him to stop the changes.

“We’ve heard from many of you,” Elliot Schrage, vice president of communications, public policy and marketing, said in the post. “We are grateful that you took the time to share your thoughts.”

The vote comes after the company on Nov. 21 announced updates to the policies. Facebook said today that it consulted with regulators about the proposed changes and further “clarified some of our proposals,” according to the post.

Shared Data

The changes will improve how Facebook manages the governance process and better reflects the growing size of its user base, the company has said. 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.

A third-party service provider’s application will facilitate the voting, and an independent auditor will examine the tabulation. Voting will end on Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. New York time.

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