Facebook Modifies Proposed Changes, Solicits User Input
April 22, 2012

Facebook Modifies Proposed Changes, Solicits User Input

In an attempt to address user concerns over privacy and the use of their personal information, Facebook announced Friday that they were modifying previously announced changes to their terms of service and would again be accepting feedback from members of the social media website.

According to CNN's Doug Gross, the changes to the document, referred to by Facebook as their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR), were made following comments made last month by members, and only a few weeks before the Mark Zuckerberg-founded company is expected to go public.

The company sent a member to the approximately 2000 members who have "liked" or subscribed to the Facebook Site Governance Page, John P. Mello Jr. of PCWorld wrote on Saturday.

In that message, Mello says that Facebook told those members, "Based on your feedback, today we announced new revisions to the proposed changes to the SRR. Even where we did not make revisions, we have provided an explanation of the original change. We´ve re-opened the comment period for the new proposed SRR to provide you with another opportunity to review the proposed changes and give us feedback before we finalize them."

Facebook will be accepting comments on the SRR revisions through April 27, he added.

Among the items described in a document posted to the website, Facebook explained that some users and members of the media "mistook the proposed update to our SRR for changes to the way we collect or use data."

The company says that they "are not proposing any updates to that document at this time" but were instead proposing "some mostly administrative and clarifying changes" that would make the "distinction between our SRR and our other policies, including our Data Use Policy" -- i.e. their privacy policy --"clearer."

"Little has slowed Facebook's ascent to the top of the social-media world“¦But if Facebook has had an Achilles heel, it's been concerns about how user data is used," Gross said. "Because it's a free service, Facebook depends on targeted advertising and a cut of the micro-payments users make in games and other apps running on the site."

"Users' activity on the site is used to paint a picture of them, and shared by Facebook to help those advertisers pick their targets," he added. "Web privacy advocates, including some government officials in the United States and elsewhere, have repeatedly expressed unease with the sheer amount of data Facebook possesses about its users and how that data may be used."

Facebook, the CNN reporter suggests, is hoping to ease user concerns about privacy before point public -- so much so that Gross observes that the word "privacy" was used 35 times in the document addressing the issue.

As Brittany Darwell of Inside Facebook pointed out on Friday, the company's practice of sharing proposed changes with users of the social network and inviting comments from those members dates back to 2009. In a handful of cases, Darwell said, the company even allows users to vote on proposed changes or other issues.