Facebook Will Let Users Help Draft New Terms Of Service

Facebook held a conference call today to announce that their next terms of service will be drafted with direct input from readers in the form of commentary, direct voting, and the creation of a “user council” to function as a sort of parliament. They’ve also introduced preliminary versions of two documents, Facebook Principles and a Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. TechCrunch paraphrases Zuckerberg on the call:

We are open to putting the documents up to a vote. The rules people must do when on the site and what we must do, a two way thing. There will be Comment periods, a council that will help on future revisions.

We do not own user data, they own their data. We never intended to give that impression and we feel bad that we did. This document is a foundation that we’re going to use our decisions going forward.

Here is the proposed Facebook Principles document:

The Facebook Principles

We are building Facebook to make the world more open and transparent, which we believe will create greater understanding and connection. Facebook promotes openness and transparency by giving individuals greater power to share and connect, and certain principles guide Facebook in pursuing these goals. Achieving these principles should be constrained only by limitations of law, technology, and evolving social norms. We therefore establish these Principles as the foundation of the rights and responsibilities of those within the Facebook Service.

1. Freedom to Share and Connect

People should have the freedom to share whatever information they want, in any medium and any format, and have the right to connect online with anyone – any person, organization or service – as long as they both consent to the connection.

2. Ownership and Control of Information

People should own their information. They should have the freedom to share it with anyone they want and take it with them anywhere they want, including removing it from the Facebook Service. People should have the freedom to decide with whom they will share their information, and to set privacy controls to protect those choices. Those controls, however, are not capable of limiting how those who have received information may use it, particularly outside the Facebook Service.

3. Free Flow of Information

People should have the freedom to access all of the information made available to them by others. People should also have practical tools that make it easy, quick, and efficient to share and access this information.

4. Fundamental Equality

Every Person – whether individual, advertiser, developer, organization, or other entity – should have representation and access to distribution and information within the Facebook Service, regardless of the Person’s primary activity. There should be a single set of principles, rights, and responsibilities that should apply to all People using the Facebook Service.

5. Social Value

People should have the freedom to build trust and reputation through their identity and connections, and should not have their presence on the Facebook Service removed for reasons other than those described in Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

6. Open Platforms and Standards

People should have programmatic interfaces for sharing and accessing the information available to them. The specifications for these interfaces should be published and made available and accessible to everyone.

7. Fundamental Service

People should be able to use Facebook for free to establish a presence, connect with others, and share information with them. Every Person should be able to use the Facebook Service regardless of his or her level of participation or contribution.

8. Common Welfare

The rights and responsibilities of Facebook and the People that use it should be described in a Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which should not be inconsistent with these Principles.

9. Transparent Process

Facebook should publicly make available information about its purpose, plans, policies, and operations. Facebook should have a town hall process of notice and comment and a system of voting to encourage input and discourse on amendments to these Principles or to the Rights and Responsibilities.

10. One World

The Facebook Service should transcend geographic and national boundaries and be available to everyone in the world.

“Live Blogging The Facebook Conference Call” [TechCrunch]

Facebook Principles (proposed) [Facebook]
“Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” (proposed) [Facebook]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Yay user council! Does this mean it will be populated by all the kids I hated in high school and college who were in student government?

  2. NotStimulated_GitEmSteveDave says:

    Please tell me it involves wild animals, darts/jarts/a marker, a blindfold, and/or 1,000 monkeys at 1,000 typewriters. Please!

  3. ScottRose says:

    This is being taken too mock-seriously by all parties.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    How “independent” do you think this “Parliament” will be if Facebook is the creator?

  5. wgrune says:

    I just envisioned the “Lord of the Flies” episode of “The Simpsons”.

  6. exconsumer9 says:

    Sounds . . . um . . . pointless. What purpose could this parliament have other than to railroad unfavorable terms? Facebook knows full well what it’s users want: give it to them or don’t.

  7. Chongo says:

    Now if only they would stop closing down facebook groups that have the word “Sex” in them, but are meant to be educational, all the while having porn stars and sexual games run rampant.

    Anyone know how to send a complaint to them so that an actual human will read it?

    The reason I bring this up is a friends site is getting shafted by facebook right now.


  8. summerbee says:

    Bill of RIGHTS? I think “Freedom Theater” sums this up at best. Sort of like “Security Theater”, a.k.a. the monumental attempts that airport security takes to make airline travel LOOK safe.

  9. thesadtomato says:

    I should have applied for your editorial asst job last night . . . could have been very collabOrative.

  10. t-r0y says:

    Facebook announced that because it can’t do anything right, it will abdicate the responsibility of defining rules for the site to it’s users (generally, those users that like to tell other users what to do, how to act, what to post, how to think…).

  11. DirkLeisure says:

    This will only work if the User Council meets in a giant chamber with flying cubicles for each delegation.

  12. frodolives35 says:

    This is the best damage control/marketing ploy I have ever seen. Someone deserves a big bonus.

  13. unobservant says:

    Super Poll: How many people removed all of their tags and photos in protest besides me? I didn’t delete my account; I just threatened it with lack of content. If enough people do this…

  14. moore850 says:

    they forgot:

    0. If you are going to sell my personal data to people for advertising, show me the money!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I think one feature or at least option I’d really like to have is to have a privacy setting that lets me delete all status updates and comments regarding other friends status at a set point, 10 days, 15 30 etc. I see no need to have my old comments haunting me 1 or 2 years in the future. it should also have an option to delete comments at the point that is set. again no need for this data to follow me around.

    I tried to post this to the facebook group but couldn’t find it