Last Friday, Facebook proposed improvements to its Data Use Policy. You can view the tracked changes at the bottom of this article and go through an explanation of them over on the Facebook Site Governance webpage.
Facebook also held a live video Q&A on Monday and launched a Facebook Terms and Policies Hub at facebook.com/policies. Most importantly, the company asked its users to comment on the changes. It's now closed:
The comment period for our proposed new Data Use Policy is now complete. Thank you for your participation. We plan to review and analyze your comments over the coming days and will keep you posted on next steps.
Here's where it gets interesting. There's a clause in Facebook's own terms of service (Statement of Rights and Responsibilities) under the Amendments section that states the following:
If more than 7,000 users comment on the proposed change, we will also give you the opportunity to participate in a vote in which you will be provided alternatives. The vote shall be binding on us if more than 30% of all active registered users as of the date of the notice vote.
So, how many comments were made? Here's the breakdown (at the time of writing, these numbers can still go up):
- 10,487 comments were made in English.
- 27 comments were made in French.
- 33 comments were made in Italian.
- 37,326 comments were made in German.
- 54 comments were made in Spanish.
- 8 comments were made in Japanese.
- 18 comments were made in Turkish.
- 9 comments were made in Korean.
- 27 comments were made in Portuguese.
Let's just say that the 7,000 comment threshold has been destroyed. Almost seven times the number of required comments have been made.
The plan was simple: get as many people as possible to spam the comment section with the statement "I oppose the changes and want a vote about the demands on www.our-policy.org." It worked.
Now let's see how long it takes Facebook to launch a voting system for its new Data Use Policy.
By the way, if you think the name "Europe versus Facebook" seems familiar, there's a good reason for that. This is the same group that made 22 formal complaints regarding the social network's practices. The group even managed to accidentally get Reddit involved, whose users overwhelmed Facebook with data requests back in September 2011.
Facebook has over 901 million active users, but its headquarters in the U.S. is not responsible for the majority of them. Facebook's international headquarters is in Dublin, meaning all users outside of the U.S. and Canada are subject to Irish and European data protection laws. Facebook chose Dublin for the tax incentives: businesses are charged approximately 2 percent tax in Dublin compared to 35 percent tax in the U.S.
This past December, Ireland's DPC completed his three-month privacy audit of Facebook's activities. Facebook promised to make a slew of changes, and agreed to a more formal follow-up review in July 2012.
- Facebook misses March deadline following privacy audit
- Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook users eventually get over privacy anxiety
- Facebook CTO: most people have modified their privacy settings
- Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing
- Facebook settles with FTC over default privacy settings
- Facebook promises changes following Irish privacy audit