Facebook announced updates. Did you get the email?
Last week Facebook sent out an email claiming to be updating in our best interests. Admittedly, most of us probably didn’t even acknowledge the email, let alone read it – I included – but this is where we may be losing out. The email titled ‘Updates to Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities’ was sent out regarding data use policy, in other words, what can Facebook do with our data, how they plan to collect it and more importantly, what say we have in regards to it.
Elliot Schrage, the Vice President of Communications and Public Policy for Facebook, announced upcoming updates to two Facebook documents on the site’s Governance webpage last Thursday, this included changes to both their Data Use Policies and their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Together these documents explain how Facebook collect, use and treat data moreover, the changes in the terms governing the use of Facebook’s services.
The email, sent out on 22 November boasted that the new updates would provide new and existing users with more ‘detailed information’ about their practices and that it would ‘reflect changes to their [current Facebook] products’. The accompanying list bullet pointed four additional updates to current Facebook features, this included: a) New tools for managing your Facebook Messages b) Changes to how Facebook refer to certain products c) Tips on managing the timeline and d) Reminders about what’s visible to other people on Facebook.
In other words, Facebook aim to update the service by incorporating new tools to clear up confusion regarding who can send and receive Facebook messages, additional to this are plans to help users manage their incoming mail. The site also plans to add reminders for people who are currently oblivious to the network’s rules on removing information from the recently incorporated timeline. This includes informing users on current deleting rules and how to remove content from the site completely.
In the very email, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook which currently allows users to vote on policy changes provoked widespread criticism after announcing that users would no longer be allowed to vote on proposed data policy changes. This controversial information came shortly after the corporation announced their billionth user. Why such a cut? Because it seems the comments just weren’t good enough. The email said: ‘We have found that the voting mechanism created a system that incentivized quantity of comments over the quality of them”. The message also read that proposals to end the voting component was in favour of a system that would lead to “more meaningful feedback and engagement” between the company and its users.
So what exactly are these ‘significant changes’ and how do Facebook plan to engage with users without the current voting mechanism? Two new ideas have been proposed. Firstly, Facebook will be launching a policy titled ‘Ask the Chief Privacy Officer’. The feature located on the Privacy page will enable users to engage with Facebook staff by submitting privacy related concerns to the Chief Privacy Officer, Erin Egan. Second to this will be the ‘Facebook Live Events’ feature which will see Egan host a series of regular webcasts in a bid to address user queries on suggested privacy, safety and security modifications.
The Facebook Site Governance page also stated that in coming weeks staff would be using ‘additional notification mechanisms’, to inform users of upcoming or potential changes to the site.
Following their bid to implement a user feedback tool to allow users to have a say on changes to the site, Facebook’s comments commitment launched in 2009. Earlier in June, following their second Global Site Governance vote, staff decided in favour of restructuring the current user governance feature ‘in light of the growth of both their community and the company”. In explaining the proposed changes, Facebook said it was looking for ways to more ‘effectively engage’ with the network’s users following the company’s recent announcement that they had surpassed a billion users.
Last week’s proposals also outlined Facebook’s plans to combine information across the various services currently owned by the billion pound company; this included multi-million user photo-sharing application Instagram.
The proposed policies received a surge of criticism following the official email sent out last Thursday. Amongst others, Our-Policy.org is now campaigning for users to comment on the proposed plans in order to trigger a user vote on Facebook’s propositions. Existing users have until 9am on Wednesday to review and comment on these changes before policies go live and are made official.
Email was sent to all users on 22 November via email.Tagged in: Elliot Schrage, facebook, Instagram, our-policy, updates, zuckerberg
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