Is Facebook Really Listening to its Users?

Is going public making Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) more responsive to users? The social network is letting its 950 million users vote on privacy policy changes for a period of one week and will notify users by web and mobile about the poll. If more than 30 percent of its active users, or 230 million people, vote for the changes, they will go into effect; if the same number votes against them, the changes will reportedly be scrapped. The proposed changes to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and its Data Use Policy have been posted online.

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According to TechCrunch, the petition for the vote was led by Max Schrems, the Austrian founder of Europe Vs. Facebook, who retrieved over a thousand pages worth of his personal information from the social network last year that he thought had been deleted.

“I really don’t think any of our changes were controversial,” Facebook’s chief privacy officer for policy, Erin Egan, said to TechCrunch.

In 2009, Facebook set up a system that requires the company to hold a vote whenever more than 7,000 users comment on a proposed change. Facebook’s Site Governance page received more than 40,000 comments demanding a vote on the policy changes. According to Egan, the social network may increase the required number of minimum comments and bring in other changes so that “low-quality comments” are not considered valid. “Max is a user of ours and we appreciate his feedback, but we worry the voting threshold number may be incentivizing quantity over quality,” Egan said.

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