Facebook Releases Results of Governance Vote

 
 
By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2009-04-24 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The turnout was far under the 30 percent of users Facebook hoped for, but the social networking site said the week-long vote, in which users determined which documents should serve as the foundation for governing the site, was a success.

Social networking behemoth Facebook announced terms of service changes as the result of a vote the company held to determine whether users supported the adoption of new governing documents. The vote came after users protested previous changes to service, when Facebook seemed to claim users' data as their own.

Approximately 74.4 percent of users who voted chose the proposed documents - the new Facebook Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities - over the existing Terms of Use. Although the company said 600,000 people voted, the figure was far below the 30 percent participation rate Facebook's founders were hoping for. The site currently has more than 200 million registered users.

Ted Ullyot, Facebook's general counsel, wrote in a blog post on Facebook that the company hoped to have a bigger turnout for this inaugural vote, but it is important to keep in mind that this vote was a first not just for users but also for Facebook. "We are hopeful that there will be greater participation in future votes," he wrote. "In the meantime, we're going to consider lowering the 30-percent threshold that the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities establishes for a user vote to be binding."

In essence, the "Rights and Responsibilities" document would replace the old terms of service, in which Facebook now makes it clear that the company claims only the right to use your content to make backups or to share it with people or applications users approve of. The furor in February was touched off by the use of the word "licensing" in the original terms of service agreement. This led to user outrage that Facebook would-or could-- exploit their photos or creative contributions to the site.

Ullyot goes on to explain the "significant efforts" Facebook made to make voting easy and to give everyone the opportunity to vote. Specifically he cited translating the documents and voting application into several of the most popular languages on the site, showing a message about the vote on users' home pages, and running advertisements and videos across Facebook promoting the vote.

"Assuming the auditors confirm the preliminary vote result in favor of the proposed documents, we'll be adopting the Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities as the governing documents for the Facebook site," he wrote. "We're pleased that users supported the proposed documents and validated our efforts to respond to their concerns."

Ullyot said users could expect to see the new documents on the site in the coming weeks. After that, all future proposed changes to the Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities will be subject to the notice, comment and voting provisions of the documents. He also encouraged users to visit the Facebook Site Governance Page to keep abreast of future proposed changes to the Facebook Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.


 
 
 
 
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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