Facebook Users Voting on Privacy, Instagram, Other Issues

But as more people wallpaper their Facebook pages with status updates, photographs, and video—more than half a petabyte of information flows through Facebook’s data warehouse on a daily basis—that question of ownership has taken a new and much-debated dimension: how much control do users actually have over Facebook’s policies and regulations?

The question exposes certain tensions inherent in Facebook’s very existence. On one hand, the social network needs to leverage user data in order to sell advertising. But if Facebook appears to disregard users’ privacy in the name of that advertising, it could provoke a brutal backlash. So as much as Facebook’s executives might like a free hand in setting policy, they also need to make a public show of responding to user concerns.

As such, Facebook is letting users vote on changes to its Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (Facebook users can vote via this link). The company will also host a live Webcast to answer questions at 9:30 AM PST. While Facebook provides access to the proposed Data Use Policy and other documents, it’s not wholly clear how the company will react if the vote doesn’t go its “way,” so to speak.

via Facebook Users Voting on Privacy, Instagram, Other Issues.

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19 thoughts on “Facebook Users Voting on Privacy, Instagram, Other Issues

  1. So, I read the article and I went to read the policies themselves, but I can’t help but wonder if some time in the future we’ll be voting on these issues like we vote for politicians. I can’t find a clear explanation of these policies and what they could possibly lead to.

    1. I think this just speaks to Facebook’s problem with being clear and transparent with their practices. If users don’t have a good understanding of the privacy policies, then they will be less likely to vote or at least vote against a practice that Facebook is in favor of. But Facebook can continue with selling user data and advertising and not get too much backlash to the point of major repercussions because few people understand the policies.

  2. Facebook and privacy issues are nothing new. The issues that seems to be arising are users do not know/understand their privacy rights as well as ownership of posts. Facebook clearly explains that users own their posts, but that does not tell the whole story. Of course, they need to earn money and they sell our data to marketers for targeting ads. Therefore, this is a catch-22, the more privacy controls Facebook allows its users (or are requested), the less available data and ultimately less revenue. I believe the real issues stem from users’ inadequate understanding of what Facebook really is. As a free service people must recognize that they then are the product being sold. Once people understand Facebook is not just a means of representing your life online, but a corporation trying to make a profit. Then users will understand why they need to take responsibility for their personal and/or non-public data and not rely on Facebook to “do the right thing.”

    1. Once people understand Facebook is not just a means of representing your life online, but a corporation trying to make a profit. Then users will understand why they need to take responsibility for their personal and/or non-public data and not rely on Facebook to “do the right thing.”

      That is a really good point, but I’m not sure its entirely correct. Facebook benefits from having the most information possible, but they also benefit from having the most users possible. They can start to hurt themselves if they claim ownership of all data posted, because then users become more wary on what they post, and are more likely to leave the Facebook network all together. If anything, it would be in the best interest of Facebook to do the “right” thing. If they give users what they want and make users happy, we are going to continue to post pictures and likes at the .5 petabyte/day rate (Wow). That is exactly why Facebook is holding the vote/webcast.

  3. If it is this difficult to find clear explanations of these policies, how can people be expected to have make an informed vote? They should have a broken down explanation for people to better understand what they are actually voting on. Would the lack of knowledge that voters make the poll illegitimate?

  4. I can’t help but think that the people that that vote on these things really have no idea what they are voting on. Facebook knows exactly what they are doing, and let’s face it, some of the people that use Facebook aren’t exactly the most educated when it comes to privacy awareness. The people are the business, but for some reason they refuse to believe it. I don’t really know if voting will make a real change.

  5. If it is not known how Facebook will react if their users do not vote in their favor, what is the point of the users voting? Yes, it allows the users to express their opinions through voting, but if there will be a backlash against the users, by Facebook, depending on the way the users vote, should they really vote in the first place? The users should know the consequences of their actions when it comes to affecting the way “their” Facebook works.

  6. I feel that Facebook can really do whatever the hell it wants within reason. It made the site and states it can do whatever the hell it wants with the data inside. People agreed to that when they signed on whether they know it completely or not. We really have no say in the mater. The only say we have is that it used our bodies to generate its revenue by visiting a page with ads on it. I still can’t get my head around why it’s thought that people have a right to privacy when they are in a public place. I mean, think about a physical setting, you have the right to privacy, but you really can’t have it without a shelter of some sort. But once inside that shelter you’re not in public anymore. The Internet is similar, you’re standing naked in a public place (Facebook comments) expecting there to be some shelter (company) to protect your privates from the view of others (stockholders/public). Not going to happen. It isn’t in the business’s interest to bend that way, unless they will lose customers, which they most likely won’t lose their entire significant user base.

  7. On one hand, I appreciate that Facebook is expressing some interest in what the opinions are of their users. However, as many of you have already stated, it is difficult to even understand the policies that are being voted on. On top of not having the information to give an educated response, the users also cannot be sure that Facebook will even take in to account what the users are saying about their privacy. In my opinion, I do not think that Facebook is as concerned with their users’ privacy as they should be. That being said, I think until something is changed regarding that situation, it is up to each user to be aware of what they are putting on their Facebook, as well as doing their own research to find out what data of theirs is being shared.

  8. Other comments touched on the policies as being difficult to understand, and while I agree that they are, but people are allowed to elect politicians into power and not understand the policies of their elected official. This doesn’t mean that everything should be difficult to understand, I was just trying to put some perspective on it. What I feel like Facebook is doing is trying to appear that they really do care about their subscribers by giving them the chance to vote, but I believe they may also be doing this to see how many people actually care and run a cost-benefit analysis to see what the loss of the concerned members would mean to profit compared to increasing privacy regulations.

  9. The thing with Facebook and it’s policies is they are rather unclear for the most part and somewhat difficult to find. I think the main factor is that the majority of users don’t bother reading the permissions they give to most things and they certainly don’t read the Terms Of Use. While I expect a majority of us in this course being Informatics majors realize exactly what some of these TOU mean and realize how our information is being collected and used. I personally don’t add anything that I feel can reasonable be used against me .I also have been censoring which friends posts come to my page.

  10. Facebook has been clear for a while that they own the information you put on its website. The problem is people don’t understand that when they put a post or upload a picture on the internet everybody can see that and it can potentially be damaging. I think our society needs to learn that the things people post or say on public forums is shocking because we feel a sense of protection when we type our thoughts out on a keyboard instead of if we were in a public setting speaking in person to other people. Although facebook may be abusing the information we upload to its website individuals need to be held accountable for the information they allow facebook to access.

  11. What some users tend to think is that “My facebook is protected, therefore no one else has access to the information I post other than the people I allow to view it.” The problem is that they are so very misinformed, obviously as most of the other posts have keyed on this and the fact that through the millions and millions of users that access facebook every day, they are very unaware and uneducated as to what is really going on with everything that they post on facebook. All of these misinformed individuals continually post information that is sold on a daily basis to large corporations with an interest to market to specific parties. Everything that you do on facebook becomes the property of facebook and they are free to sell and distribute whatever data that you post on their site. As stated in this article, http://www.zdnet.com/debate/the-social-web-who-owns-your-data/10087130/, you own everything that you have created and uploaded to sites of your choice, but also the owner of those sites also owns whatever you have uploaded as well. It is a sad and strange thing to think that everything that we do on the internet has an affect on our overall privacy and lifestyle. The best thought I can give to anyone who wants to post something on the internet is to remember that whatever you put on the internet is going to be stored on some server owned by somebody and if you aren’t that somebody, you better think twice about what you are storing.

  12. A lot of the above comments have touched on the policies/issues I’d like to restate here. My main concern is that users are simply just not aware of what’s going on behind the scenes. I’m glad Facebook is finally allowing users to have a say in regards to its privacy settings, but I don’t know how much this is going to affect Facebook’s privacy statement/terms of use, if at all. Facebook relies on gathering information about its users and selling it to advertisers for targeted marketing campaigns for its cash inflow. If users actually vote against Facebook sharing and selling user information, do you actually think that Facebook will remove that feature? No. But I think it’s a step in the right direction for Facebook to get a good feel for what users really think about their website.

  13. As many people above have stated, I think it is hard for Facebook users to fully understand and be informed on what they are voting on here or what the Facebook policies are saying in general. This was definitely a good thing for Facebook to do, but I feel that it could be taken as just an act to make it look like they care about the privacy of the users when really they are a business trying to make money and Facebook relies on users information. Like Aaron said in the comment above mine I really don’t see any way that Facebook will stop sharing and selling user information even if everyone voted against it. I think that Facebook and privacy issues will continue to be a problem and a story for a long time.

  14. I am sure it leaves many people uneasy that their activity on Facebook flows through these massive data centers. I agree with some of the other comments that mention how it is not right that most users do not understand what is going on behind the scenes with Facebook’s privacy issues. It was nice for them to allow us to vote an express our opinions on what we think about the privacy settings. I know many people have been freaking out since Facebook became publicly traded earlier this year. People were worried about how the information on their page would be handled. This is still a concern for a lot of people, so their is still a lot that can be done to put Facebook users at ease.

  15. I understand the Facebook keeping up with the service with selling the user data to other companies to make money. Facebook need to be more transparent with what they do with the data that user provided in order to prevent privacy issue come up. Also there need to be Governmental intervention to prevent such data collection and selling user data should be protected. Government makes regislation that allows to collect user data in face of the terrorism, but not to protect them. Or they should fine such activities which can cause problem to the company. Since user privacy need to be protected, voting will not mean that much to the data collection and sharing of Facebook,

  16. I think Facebook is always going to have Privacy issues. I think that voting could help for some things but I doubt that Facebook would take the votes seriously if something didn’t go their way. One big problem with Facebook and other sites that have a form of ‘terms of service’, is most people don’t read it. For many people that do read it, they have read it after they had already had Facebook for awhile when privacy became a concern. It is important for people to understand that many things you do over social media websites such as Facebook are not always private. I think what Facebook really should do is spell out their privacy terms so that a 13 year old can understand it. Many people don’t want to read a ‘terms of service’ type document because it’s too much to read and hard to understand. One good way they could help the information be better understood by more people is they could make a video. I think it there was a video of someone explaining the terms, more people would have acknowledged the privacy terms. They could place the text underneath if someone wants to go back and read something instead of re-watching the video. I think there are easily things that Facebook could change for more people to understand terms. However, I don’t think Facebook wants everyone to understand the terms. I think Facebook wants there to be very little privacy from as many people as possible.

    -Amy B.

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