Facebook service terms vote ends Thursday

Thirty percent of active users must vote in order for it to be binding.

Thursday is the last day Facebook users can vote on the rules they want to govern the social-networking site, a choice between the existing terms and a set of user-influenced documents. By Wednesday evening, over 433,018 users had voted, nearly 75 percent for the revised conditions âÄî but thatâÄôs millions fewer than are needed to make the vote binding. Voters are choosing between the existing terms of service agreement, last modified in September, and the proposed governing documents, which include a Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and a set of Facebook Principles . In plain English rather than legalese, the new terms address, among other things, the way Facebook will make terms-of-use changes and FacebookâÄôs license to user content. Thirty percent of active Facebook users (people who have logged on to the site in the past 30 days) must vote before the polls close Thursday night for the majority opinion to be binding. Facebook estimates more than 100 million users log on each day. While the new conditions state that Facebook must notify users about any changes to the terms âÄî and give them a chance to vote on a proposed change if more than 7,000 users voice concern âÄî the old terms give Facebook the right to amend without notice. The new conditions also address the issue that triggered the terms-of-service revamp by clarifying FacebookâÄôs license to userâÄôs content. The new terms state the siteâÄôs rights to a userâÄôs photos, videos and notes end when users delete their content. These are the two main aspects of the new conditions that Julius Harper , a Los Angeles video game producer who helped draft the documents, is trying to make users aware of. Following a February user- backlash over a terms-of-service change (which has been reversed), Facebook agreed to revamp those terms. They published versions of potential new governing documents, elicited user input for 30 days and incorporated comments into the documents now up for vote. The aim, according to a Facebook blog post from CEO Mark Zuckerberg , was to clarify the relationship between the site and its users. Harper started a popular Facebook group protesting the new terms of service back in February, and heâÄôs since been a conduit between users and Facebook, conveying their concerns to the site and giving it feedback about proposed documents. He said the proposed terms of service make him more comfortable using Facebook, though there are still intellectual property issues for people posting their creative work. Dan Olds , who runs an Oregon consulting group that provides advice on technology trends and products, said he hasnâÄôt seen another company do what Facebook is doing âÄî at least not on such a large scale. One striking difference is the lack of legalese in the proposed documents, which Olds appreciates. âÄúIf you can read it and understand it, thatâÄôs a good thing,âÄù he said. âÄúTo me it kind of shows their heartâÄôs in the right place,âÄù Still, Facebook seems to have set an unattainable voter participation requirement. Because of the high quorum, one London-based privacy watchdog group called the vote a publicity stunt. In a statement on their website, the groupâÄôs director accused Facebook of staging an illusory voting process, knowing theyâÄôll never reach their set requirement. Though Harper said the 30 percent requirement wasnâÄôt reasonable âÄî and that Facebook should have done more advertising for the vote âÄî he thinks Facebook wonâÄôt reject the new rules altogether, even if the quota isnâÄôt met. âÄúIf they do, I would be very surprised,âÄù he said. Some disagree with certain aspects of the new rules âÄî for example, a clause barring users living in a country embargoed by the U.S. But Harper said they should still vote yes on the new terms and then comment on that section en masse to trigger an amendment vote. âÄúYou want to use a line-item veto, you donâÄôt want to destroy the whole bill,âÄù he said.