Facebook sent out notice about the changes near midnight East Coast time the night before Thanksgiving — the kind of timing most companies would use to drop bad news, knowing most people are too busy traveling, salivating, or silently suffering through awkward family time to pay attention. That caused some people to freak out, assuming Facebook was changing the policy to retain rights to all your photos as well as your eternal soul.
It was only a holiday evening for the American part of the Facebook user base.
1. There’s a handy-dandy redlined version of the new policy here. One of the biggest changes is that Facebook isn’t going to let you vote anymore on changes to its policy. Facebook was trying this whole democracy thing, letting its community decide whether or not it should make changes to the agreements between the social-networking site and its users. The problem: voter apathy. The vote was only triggered if the site received over 7,000 comments on proposed changes. During a vote in June, only 342,632 people participated. That’s a miniscule fraction of Facebook’s now one-billion strong user base, and thus nearly meaningless, and not enough to hit Facebook’s 30% voter participation requirement to make the vote binding. So Facebook’s pulling the plug on democracy — a sad turn of events, argues Michael Phillips at Buzzfeed — instead having a substantive “comment period” and making its privacy czar Erin Egan available to answer questions.
2. Facebook is adding a clause to the data use policy that allows it to share “information with affiliates,” i.e. other companies that Facebook owns. Bloomberg calls the move Google-like, pointing out that it will allow Facebook “to build unified profiles of its users that include people’s personal data from its social network and from Instagram.” I think it’s less like Google mashing up everything it knows about a person in one basket and more like a typical corporate clause. But it does mean that Facebook and Instagram info may now exist on the same server and won’t be kept separate, meaning the social networking can now see everything it knows about you through a Walden filter.
“As our company grows, we acquire businesses that become a legal part of our organization,” says a Facebook spokesperson. “We wanted to clarify that we will share information with our affiliates and vice versa, both to help improve our services and theirs, and to take advantage of storage efficiencies.”
3. Facebook is making some changes to your ability to block people from sending you private messages. They’re removing a clause that said, “You can control who can start a message thread with you using your ‘How You Connect’ settings.” But Facebook says it’s not totally taking away your ability to block your ex from harassing you via private message.
“We are working on updates to Facebook Messages and have made this change in our Data Use Policy in order to allow for improvements to the product,” says a Facebook spokesperson. “You will still be able to block senders and manage which messages you see in your inbox.”
Two privacy groups, who have asked Facebook to withdraw its proposed changes, alleging they violate the company’s agreement with the FTC, argue in a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the change to the messaging controls means Facebook users are going to get hit with more spam.
So your eternal soul is safe for now. The comment period for these changes ends on Wednesday, November 28. You can weigh in here.
Article Source Forbes.