Live Blogging The Facebook Conference Call

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Facebook Opens Up Its Terms Of Service To Input From Users

We’re live blogging this morning’s Facebook conference call, during which Mark Zuckerberg is planning to “announce the new steps Facebook is taking to improve user understanding and ownership of the Facebook terms of service and, more generally, the policies of the Facebook service”. The call begins at 11 AM PST.

To coincide with today’s call, Facebook has also announced that it is Opening Up Its Terms Of Service To Input From Users.

After a brief delay. Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s VP Communications and Public Policy, is introducing the call.

Mark Zuckerberg:
Today we are going to talk about a set of documents that will be the governing documents of Facebook from here on. . . . We feel this is fairly unprecedented, giving users this much involvement into the process. The purpose of Facebook is to make the world more transparent and open. The governing documents are the framework of how we want to move forward with this. Last week we put up an old set of terms after we got feedback from a newer set of terms that we put up. What we are talking about today are things we’ve discussed at Facebook and our principles for a long time. We took last week as a strong signal that people care about Facebook. These are the foundational policies. The policies, principles, rights and responsibilities are really the foundation for the things we are going to build. The rules for how we want to govern the site.

What we’re talking about today is policy, not product.

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.”

Q: How did you go about changing the terms of service last time?
Zuckerberg: The terms were similar to what other sites have. We actually shortened our terms from 15 pages to something much smaller. But we made some mistakes, and the complaints were completely fair. But what we’re doing now is totally unprecedented.
Q: Who decides what the vote determines? What if you disagree with them?
Schrage: We feel confident they’ll make good decisions..

Q: You’ve been here before. Did you not learn from Beacon that people will rebel against changes in Terms of Service?
Zuckerberg: Beacon wasn’t a change in Terms of Service. This was a dialog around the governing terms of the site. People use a lot of services on the web, but this is one of the only ones where they’re sharing their information.
Schrage: Part of the challenge is that what was proposed with new ToS is remarkably consistent with what other sites have their ToS. Some of the blogs criticizing our ToS had Terms that were just as broad, but Mark’s point is that people share so much more on Facebook so we have to be held to a higher standard.

Q: You mentioned that the amount of user involvement here is unprecedented. As an increasingly international organization, some of these continents like Europe have more stringent laws. What are your considerations for international laws?
Ted: We of course pay attention to the laws…

Q: Can you comment on steps Facebook is taking to determine phishing, malware?
Schrage: That’s not really the purpose of the call today, feel free to contact us about that later.

Q: You were already asked about Beacon. What could you have learned from the News Feed response? How do you manage expectations to people Twittering that you’re allowing users to write your ToS?
Zuckerberg: We’re going to build product according to the goals we’re laying out. We should have been communicating about these products more broadly.

Q: Is there not a need for contract language somewhere?
Ted: I encourage you to look at the statement of rights and responsibilities. We have not just what you see as the ToS for users, but also for advertisers and developers. We have shrunk 44 pages of material to around 5.5 in this document including all three of those terms.

That concludes the call.

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