Facebook Opens Itself to Feedback on Service, Policy

Facebook has responded to the recent backlash over the attempted change to its Terms of Service by opening its upcoming Facebook Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to user review, comment and vote. In a conference call, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg further clarified that Facebook has no designs on owning user data.

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Facebook announced on Feb. 26 that it was opening its upcoming Facebook Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to user review, comment and vote.

"The Principles are the operational foundation, and how we want to craft the rules moving forward, and that's the foundation for the rights and responsibilities," Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, said in a conference call. "We really took last week as a strong signal of how much people care about Facebook."

Earlier this month, Facebook changed its Terms of Service to claim ownership over any content that subscribers uploaded to the site, even after they closed their accounts. Facebook later retreated to the old version of its Terms of Service after enormous subscriber backlash.

"We do not own user data," Zuckerberg asserted during the call. "We never really intended to give that impression, and we feel really bad that we did."

According to the company, opening the documents to user feedback and voting will make the site more transparent and democratic. Virtual "town halls" will be held over the next 30 days during which users will be able to comment on the policies.

Users will be able to join the Facebook Principles group at this site, and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities group at this one. The comment period will close at 12:01 a.m. PST on March 29.

After the comment period has ended, Facebook will review the submitted comments and republish the Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities with any incorporated changes. Adding another level to it, Facebook will post a summary of the "most common and signficant comments received, including its response to those comments where appropriate," according to the company.

Following these "town halls," the Facebook Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities will be subject to a vote, open to all Facebook users active as of Feb. 25. If more than 30 percent of all active registered users vote, the results will become binding. Any future policy change will also be open to a vote, the company stated, provided "the level of intensity of user interest would justify it."

Facebook has lately opened itself even further via the introduction of the Facebook Platform to developers. Late last week, it announced a Comments Box social messaging widget, designed to further integrate Facebook Connect, which allows users to sign onto other Web sites using their Facebook information, into Web sites and blogs.