Facebook gives users a set of rights and a vote on policy

A week after Facebook gets slammed by outraged users, it shelves terms of service

After outraged users slammed Facebook Inc. earlier this month for taking too much control over their content, the social network today unveiled a new plan that will bring users into its policy discussions.

"Beginning today, we are giving you a greater opportunity to voice your opinion over how Facebook is governed," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a press conference. "History tells us that systems are most fairly governed when there is an open and transparent dialogue between the people who make decisions and those who are affected by them. We believe history will one day show that this principle holds true for companies as well, and we're looking to moving in this direction with you."

Last week, Zuckerberg said Facebook was ending new terms of service announced on Feb. 4 that appeared to give the company perpetual control over any data posted to its social networking site. At the time, Zuckerberg said Facebook was reverting to the previous terms of use that did not grant the company any rights to deleted material, and would soon announce a new policy.

Facebook, which announced last month it had hit a milestone of 150 million users, was criticized by users who voiced concerns that the company was giving itself the right to use content long deleted from online profiles. Users expressed concern that comments written with little thought or photos of them at college parties could come back to haunt them years later.

During the announcement of the new policies today, Zuckerberg noted that the company is already seeking user comment on two documents posted on Facebook. One, called Facebook Principles, is set up to define user rights and ultimately serve as a template for future policies. The second document, Facebook's new Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, will ultimately replace the company's Terms of Service.

"With both documents, we tried hard to simplify the language so you have a clear understanding of how Facebook will be run," Zuckerberg said in a blog post. "We've created separate groups for each document so you can read them and provide comments and feedback. Before these new proposals go into effect, you'll also have the ability to vote for or against proposed changes."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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