The Facebook Site Governance Vote

By Elliot Schrage, Vice President, Communications, Public Policy and Marketing

Facebook is committed to being a more transparent, accountable and responsive service provider for our users. That’s why we’re constantly exploring innovative ways to bring meaningful user participation to our policies and practices reviews. In 2009, for example, we held our first global site governance vote.

Since 2009, we have continued to take unprecedented steps to promote understanding and enable participation on the web. Each time we’ve proposed changes to our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) and Data Use Policy, we have presented them to you first to read and provide comments and feedback, which we incorporate into our revisions. In fact, since beginning this process, we have processed more than 150,000 comments on proposed policies and made dozens of substantive changes in response. We take your insights and concerns seriously.

In March, we restarted this process by posting revised versions of our SRR and Data Use Policy for notice and comment. We proposed changes to these documents to, among other things, improve them by adding examples and detailed explanations to help you better understand our policies and practices, comply with the law, incorporate feedback from regulators and individuals like you and reflect the addition of new products and services like Facebook Timeline.

Since then, we reviewed your comments and incorporated your feedback into some of the proposed changes. The comment period for submitting feedback has ended, but you can still have a role in helping to shape the policies that will govern Facebook. Today we are posting the proposed revised versions of both documents and asking you to join our second global site governance vote. Voting will be facilitated by an application developed on Facebook Platform by Wildfire, and an independent auditor will examine the vote tabulation to further ensure accurate results.

We strongly encourage you to participate in the vote on our new revised documents. To vote, please use this link – Voting starts today and will end on June 8 at 9:00 am (PDT). As stated in both policies, if more than 30% of all active registered users vote, the results will be binding. If turnout is less than 30%, the vote will be advisory.

In the few short years since we announced this unprecedented process, Facebook has grown from 200 million people into a global community of more than 900 million. We’ve also grown from a small private company into a newly public one. Back in 2009, the site governance process enabled us to be proactive in establishing a system of accountability for the policy changes we considered. Since then, our growing relationship with regulators around the world has created a new layer of accountability with respect to our practices and policies.

For instance, we have entered into a settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission which involves regular audits of our privacy practices; we work closely with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s Office, which completed a comprehensive audit of our data practices last year; and we are now subject to the regulatory authority of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Despite these new realities, we have not changed our site governance process since 2009. Therefore we plan to review this process in the coming months, particularly in light of the current notice, comment and vote process, to determine whether it appropriately reflects the growth of our community and business and to ensure it still serves its original purpose.

While our participatory mechanisms may change, our commitment to greater transparency, accountability and responsiveness will not. We will explore ways to bring user suggestions and concerns before Facebook’s management. We will explore ways to tap into the insights and expertise of Facebook user communities worldwide. We will explore proposals that offer innovative approaches for making user participation more useful as Facebook evolves beyond its billionth user.

We don’t pretend to have the answers to these novel governance challenges. One thing we do know is that your participation and partnership in exploring possible approaches is vital. That’s why we’re look forward to your vote on our newly revised SRR and Data Use Policy.

Thank you for your feedback and participation in this process.

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