You Decide: Facebook Puts New Terms to a Vote

Zuckerberg at it again...

Facebook, whose user base could form the world's sixth-largest country behind Brazil, is trying its hand at democracy.

The fast-growing online hangout, which boasts more than 175 million users worldwide, said Thursday those users will play a "meaningful role" in deciding the site's policies and voting on changes.

Facebook is trying to recover from last week's policy-change blunder that sparked tens of thousands to join online protests. At issue was who controls the information that people share on the site.

On Thursday, founder Mark Zuckerberg tried again to reassure users that they are the owners, not Facebook. (To read's account of the conference call, click here.)  The company will let users have a say in various policies -- such as privacy, ownership and sharing -- by reviewing, commenting and voting on them before they are put in place.

"We sat down to work on documents that could be the foundation of this and we came to an interesting realization -- that the conventional business practices around a Terms of Use document are just too restrictive to achieve these goals," Zuckerberg told members in a Facebook posting. "We decided we needed to do things differently and so we're going to develop new policies that will govern our system from the ground up in an open and transparent way."

Earlier this month, the site quietly updated its terms of use, sparking an uproar after popular consumer rights advocacy blog referred to them as "We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever."

Tens of thousands protested and Facebook reverted to its previous user policies while it figured out how best to update them.

Currently, users can look at two documents: One called Facebook Principles, which "defines your rights and will serve as the guiding framework behind any policy we'll consider -- or the reason we won't consider others," and another called the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which will replace the existing Terms of Use.

"Before these new proposals go into effect, you'll also have the ability to vote for or against proposed changes," Zuckerberg told users.

But while Zuckerberg is willing to let users vote on changes to these two new documents, he's not giving overall control of his site to his users. Any new technologies developed by Facebook won't go through such stringent user filters.

"The launch of News Feed and the recent interface redesign are excellent examples that illustrate why we need to continue to make independent decisions about products in order to push technology forward," Zuckerberg said. "While these products must be consistent with the Principles and in compliance with the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, they will not be subject to the notice and comment or voting requirement."

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