Facebook opens polls

User vote on site policy proposals gets underway

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Facebook opens polls The vote is only binding if 30% of Facebook’s 1 billion users take part. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  December 4, 2012

Facebook Inc's 1 billion users are set to vote on the social media company's proposals to change site policies, including message filtering facilities, use of users' personal data and the scrapping of the voting system itself, Reuters reported.

As voting began yesterday, the company clarified earlier statements on its plans to share personal data with recent photo-sharing acquisition Instagram, now saying it would seek user consent where applicable.

The November 21 announcement of the proposed changes to policy generated around 89,000 public comments on the site and drew concerned responses from privacy advocates.

In Ireland, seat of Facebook's European headquarters, the Data Protection Commission made a request for clarification of the proposals.

"Based on your feedback and after consultation with our regulators, including the Irish Data Protection Commissioner's Office, we've further clarified some of our proposals," said Elliot Schrage, Facebook vice president of communications, public policy and marketing in a post on Facebook's company blog yesterday.

Facebook argues that the voting system does not currently function as intended and is not longer appropriate for an organisation that is publicly traded and ultimately answerable to shareholders and a range of regulators.

The company also addressed its proposed merging of user data with Instagram, calling it a "standard in the industry" and claiming it "promotes the efficient and effective use of the services of Facebook and its affiliates," such as user interaction across national boundaries.

"This provision covers Instagram and allows us to store Instagram's server logs and administrative records in a way that is more efficient than maintaining totally separate storage systems," the company wrote in a separate post on its website titled "explanation of changes".

"Where additional consent of our users is required, we will obtain it," Facebook said.

Facebook has provided a third-party application for the vote, which it says will be overseen by an independent auditor. Polls close on 10 December, but if less than 30% of Facebook users worldwide have voted, the result will not be binding. Reuters reports that two prior votes failed to reach that threshold.

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