Facebook propose changes to its feedback system, and starts sharing Instragram data

Facebook is proposing changes to its privacy settingsFacebook is facing a backlash from users , after the removed some of their more democratic decision making processes.  Since 2009 users have been able to reverse some of the changes made to the social network by commenting on it voting against it.

If 7,000 people commented on a certain change that would prompt a vote, and if 30% of Facebook users voted against a change, it would be reversed.

However, in a statement posted yesterday  by Elliot Schrage, Vice President, Communications, Public Policy and Marketing, the company says:

“We deeply value the feedback we receive from you during our comment period. In the past, your substantive feedback has led to changes to the proposals we made. However, we found that the voting mechanism, which is triggered by a specific number of comments, actually resulted in a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality. Therefore, we’re proposing to end the voting component of the process in favor of a system that leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement.”

This new feedback system includes a feature catchily entitled ‘Ask the Chief Privacy Officer’, which will allow users to post questions to Eric Egan on the Facebook Privacy Page.  Egan will also host live webcasts around privacy, safety, and security issues.

As Will Oremus on the Slate points out, the current system actually means users could, in theory, mount a campaign against these changes, altho he thinks this is unlikely:

“It turns out that, for all of the shrill cries that fly around the Internet every time Zuckerberg and company make a tweak, most people just don’t care enough to take action.”

However, a note featuring the letter has now got 7,000 comments which means it does qualify for the vote. Whether the required 300 million users no vote against it remains to be seen.

It’s quite sneaky timing of Facebook, as many Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving today, so a significant chunk of Facebook’s users will not be paying much attention to it.

In addition to the voting changes, Facebook has also announced that it will share data with Instagram, the photo-filtering app it bought for $1 million, which will help build a broader profile of its users.

The only time there has been a major reversal of a Facebook product was over the disastrous Beacon project, which ruined many a secret present, and could widespread outrage among users.