Facebook Asks Users To Help Shape Its Policies

Facebook's privacy policies have been criticized for being opaque and potentially harmful to users. Now the social network is responding with a totally new strategy — opening up its governance to users —allowing them to comment, make suggestions, and vote.

What better way to avoid user's criticism than involve them in the process.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg is calling this a "new model of governance". It's a democratization of a process in which users deserve a role — it is after all, their information they're protecting.

The company is first testing this out with "The Facebook Principles", the big picture values that define Facebook's oversight of rights and privacy.

Any user can read and comment on this link through March 29, when the company will take all the input, summarize it, and incorporate the ideas into new principles. It's pretty organized-- the principles are broken into two groups—and no nonsense, unrelated comments aren't allowed. Facebook is doing the same for its "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities" which specifically addresses controversial issues like how long (and how long after your departure from the site) Facebook can hold onto your information and messages.

Facebook has about 175 million active users, but just about $300 million in revenues last year. (In contrast, MySpace has around 130 million active users, and it's closing in on $1 billion in revenue). Having users trust and permission, is key to Facebook expanding its ad platform, and making its ads targeted, the secret to higher revenues. Today's move to engage and reassure users may just look like just that, but it must be part of a bigger, long-term plan to grow revenues.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg is about to hold a conference call with print reporters on the topic.

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