Facebook is giving its nearly 1 billion users a chance to vote onwhether they prefer some of the social network's old policies orproposed new ones, but that doesn't mean the company is open totransforming its product in major ways, especially if the changeswould cost it money. At first glance, news of the vote colors Facebook benevolentconsidering how often it has been slammed for infringing uponusers' privacy. But in reality, the reason behind the vote is muchmore simple: Facebook's regulations require the company to hold avote whenever more than 7000 users comment on a proposed change. TechCrunch calls Facebook's proposed changes to its data use policyand statement of rights and responsibilities "relatively benign"and reports that if more than 30 percent of Facebook's active usersvote for the changes they'll go into effect; if they vote againstthem, the changes will be tossed out. |
Max Schrems, the Austrian founder of Europe Vs. Facebook , is responsible for an onslaught of comments that have floodedFacebook's Site Governance page -- about 40,000 in one week, hesays. Schrems, a law student at the University of Vienna, has acontentious history with Facebook. Last year, he retrieved 1222pages worth of his personal information from the social network andtook issue with the fact that among them he found wall posts,messages, e-mail addresses, and friend names that he had previouslydeleted from his account. While it's interesting that a 24-year-old and a few of his friendsthat make up the Europe Vs.
Facebook is now standing in the way of improved privacyprotection it lobbied for," reports TechCrunch . Indeed, even though the vote was a result of Europe Vs. Facebooklobbying its network to spam Facebook, it does put the group in ahard place. "The old version was clearly illegal under European law and the newversion is making things even worse," states a June 1 press release [PDF] issued by Europe Vs. Facebook.
"Right now we would suggest torather vote for the old policy, since this would force Facebook totake another attempt to comply with the Irish regulators." In the past Schrems has said that it's likely no government orcorporation has ever managed to gather such a huge amount of personal and often highly sensitive data like Facebook is able to do. According to the Europe Vs. Facebook website, much of the personaldata Schrems discovered the social network was keeping on himwasn t generated by himself, but by his friends or by Facebook."Facebook is e.g. tracking your hardware, keeping deleted friendsor calculate your last location. That is information you never seeon facebook.com," says a FAQ page (PDF) on the group s site.
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