Facebook is changing user policies – what does it mean for you?

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Image: Tom Solari/TECHGEEK.com.au

If you haven’t checked your emails, then you would have missed that Facebook is changing its policies – its “Data Use Policy” and its “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities”. Rather than you just read the entire document, we have compress the changes into this blog post. So, what do these changes mean for you?

Well, first off, you are no longer able to control who messages you through your Facebook email with anyone now being able to start a message thread with you. Of course, anyone who is on that message thread can also reply to it. Facebook has said that they will replace it with filters.

Another change is the introduction of the “Affiliates” section of its Data Use Policy, which states that they “may share information” with other Facebook-owned companies (e.g. Instagram), and they may share information back.

However, one of the biggest changes in terms of governing Facebook is the decision to kill the ‘user veto’. Basically, if more than 7000 users posts a “substantive comment” on a change, then all users will be then given a chance to vote. If 30% of all registered users voted, and if it is positive, then it is binding.

Now, it has been replaced with a “comment period” and then they will decide to either implement or not implement based on users’ feedback.

Whether this is a good or bad thing is very hard to determine – it is often useful just in case Facebook does something really, really bad; but we also have government agencies that are also looking at Facebook to make sure they don’t do anything illegal (especially given now it is a public company), As well, it is now easy to game the system to have minor things be required to be taken to a vote.

Facebook is also introducing “Ask the Chief Privacy Officer” (Erin Egan) and will be holding live events to address comments and questions on Facebook privacy, safety and security. It has also added more guidance to users on what they can do on managing privacy and their timeline.

Users have until November 28 at 9:00AM San Francisco time to respond to changes. If you have any concerns, then you can go to Facebook’s Site Governance page and voice your concerns. Don’t forget – this might be the last chance you get to veto something.