Facebook to go ahead with new terms and conditions

24 Apr 2009

Facebook users have given a democratic thumbs up to changes to the social-networking site’s terms and conditions, giving them greater control over any content they decide to post on the site.

However, the democratic vote on the 200 million-strong social-networking site to decide whether the new terms and conditions would be adopted saw only 600,000 users – just over 1pc – participate.

Some 74.4pc of Facebook users who opted to vote supported the new terms to go ahead.

Under the new terms, Facebook promised it would not use content from its users after they delete the content or terminate their accounts.

The vote was organised when users expressed outrage at Facebook’s decision in February to make changes to its existing terms of service that gave it ownership of users’ data.

Facebook’s counsel Ted Ullyot said the final results were being reviewed by an auditor.

“The preliminary numbers indicate that approximately 74.4pc of users who voted chose the proposed documents – the new Facebook Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities – over the existing Terms of Use.

“We strongly believe that our proposed documents satisfied the concerns raised in February.”

Ullyot said that once the auditors confirm the results, the company will be implementing the new terms and conditions.

“We’ll be adopting the Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities as the governing documents for the Facebook site. We’re pleased that users supported the proposed documents and validated our efforts to respond to their concerns. You can expect to see the new documents on the site in the coming weeks.

“After that, all future proposed changes to the Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities will be subject to the notice, comment and voting provisions of the documents.”

Ullyot said the 600,000-plus users who voted constitute a significant number of people. “But, at the same time, that’s a small number compared to our user base of more than 200 million.”

He said the small turnout occurred despite Facebook promoting the vote on every user’s homepage, as well as the company running adverts and videos.

“We’d hoped to have a bigger turnout for this inaugural vote, but it is important to keep in mind that this vote was a first for users, just like it was a first for Facebook.

“We are hopeful there will be greater participation in future votes. In the meantime, we’re going to consider lowering the 30pc threshold that the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities establishes for a user vote to be binding,” Ullyot added.

By John Kennedy