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Surprise! Facebook users vote against privacy policy changes

Facebook users have until 3 p.m. ET/noon PT on Dec. 10 to cast their votes on changes proposed to the social network's data use policy and statement of rights and responsibilities — among them, the very right of Facebook users to vote on policy. The voting has just barely begun, but so far it looks like there's a strong opposition to the changes.

At the time of this story, about 6,000 users voted for the new data use policy and statement of rights and responsibilities, while over 65,000 opposed the new documents.

These early votes certainly don't mean that Facebook will be forced to drop its proposed changes. Users have only been able to vote since Tuesday morning and most haven't even cast a ballot yet. According to Facebook's current policy, it takes 30 percent of the active user base — currently clocking in at over a billion users — to prevent the proposed changes. "If turnout is less than 30 percent," reads the rule, "the vote will be advisory."


The proposed changes include an end of the current "site governance process," meaning that users will not have the opportunity to vote on future policy changes.

Facebook is also making a provision which permits it to share information with affiliates. It claims that the new provision "is standard in the industry and promotes the efficient and effective use of the services Facebook and its affiliates provide."

The other major changes revolve around Instagram, Facebook's recently acquired photo-sharing service, and how the service's server logs and other data are stored. There are also clarifications regarding whether or not the social network is changing ownership of content you post on Facebook. ("This is not true and has never been the case," a breakdown of the policy changes declares.)

User votes aren't the only thing standing in the way of Facebook going willy-nilly with all sorts of policy changes. The European Union puts plenty of pressure on the social network — as well as Google and other tech giants — in order to protect user rights. States-side, the FTC chimes in when things get rough. (The Facebook Site Governance process is actually the result of an FTC settlement.)

If you want to cast a vote for or against the new policy changes, you can do so by heading over to the Facebook Governance Vote page and signing in with your Facebook account. You can review the proposed documents, vote, and share the fact that you voted with friends. When 300 million people get on board, Facebook will take notice.

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