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Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Facebook To End User Voting On Privacy Documents, Share Data with Instagram

Facebook will stop letting letting users vote on changes to its privacy policies, though it will continue to let users comment on proposed updates.

The company is also proposing to combine user data with that of recently acquired photo-sharing service Instagram. Facebook said that by sharing information between its own service and other businesses or affiliates that Facebook owns would "help provide, understand, and improve our services and their own services."

The change could open the door for Facebook to build unified profiles of its users that include people's personal data from its social network and from Instagram, similar to recent moves by Google. Both internet heavyweights have faced scrutiny and enforcement from privacy regulators as consumers entrust ever-increasing amounts of information about their personal lives to Web services.

Until now, Facebook engaged users' views when the company proposed changes to its governing policies. Facebook held its second global site governance vote in June. After reviewing the process, Facebook decided that the voting mechanism actually resulted "in a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality." Therefore, Facebook is now proposing to end the voting component of the process in favor of a system that "leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement."

Facebook said it would continue to post significant changes to its Data Use Policy and SRR and provide a seven-day period for review and comment. The company will also provide additional notification mechanisms, including email, for informing users of those changes. In the coming weeks, Facebook will roll out new ways of responding to users questions and comments about Facebook. These include a new feature on Facebook and Privacy Page that will let users submit questions about privacy to the company's Chief Privacy Officer of Policy, Erin Egan. In addition, Erin Egan will host webcasts on a regular basis to address users' comments and questions about privacy, safety and security.

Facebook also wants to eliminate a setting for users to control who can contact them. The company said it planned to replace the "Who can send you Facebook messages" setting with new filters for managing incoming messages. However, this could leave Facebook users exposed to spam-like messages.

Facebook's new Data Use Policy also includes "reminders" about what's visible to other people on Facebook. For instance, when a users hides things from heis /her timeline, those posts are visible elsewhere, like in news feed, on other people's timelines, or in search results.

All the proposed changes are available under the "Documents" tab of Facebook's Site Governance Page. Users have a chance to review and comment on these changes by 9:00 AM PST on November 28, 2012.

Once the comment period is over, Facecbook will be hosting a Facebook Live where Erin Egan, the company's Chief Privacy Officer of Policy, will respond to users' comments live.

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