The Facebook site governance vote email explained

Those who use Facebook might have noticed a very official-sounding email turning up in their inbox. Entitled “Our Global Site Governance Vote” and fairly difficult to understand, it is a lot less complex than it seems.

Rather than your wasting your time trawling the underbelly of Facebook to try to make sense of it all, Pocket-lint has done the hard work for you. Read on for a simple explanation of what the Facebook email means.

Essentially, Facebook (the company) is planning on making some changes to the way that it runs Facebook (the social network). Its statement of rights and responsibilities (SRR) and data use policies are both planning to be altered. The social network is asking for you to vote on whether it implements the proposed policies or keeps the current ones. This vote can be cast here.

The SRR is basically Facebook’s operating manual. Reading through, it covers everything from privacy to security and the sharing of your content and information.

As for data use, this is all tied up in the way Facebook makes its money through advertising and how it shares what it knows about you and with whom it shares it.

For most, the changes will have very little affect on the way Facebook operates day to day. In fact, if you just ignore the email altogether and let your Facebook tick over, chances are you won’t even notice any differences.

This email has come about because Facebook invited feedback on the proposed changes. That period of consultation has come to and end, raising a number of points. The main issues highlighted with the proposed changes relate to four things: Facebook affiliates, ownership of your content, privacy controls and advertising policies.

Facebook affiliates are basically parts of Facebook with which the company shares information: Facebook Ireland, for example. Sharing information between affiliates lets users around the world interact and speeds up efficiency for Facebook.

As for ownership of content, Facebook isn’t changing anything, so whatever you post to Facebook, you own and control.

For privacy, the new version of the SRR intends to add more information which will help to explain differences between privacy controls and the privacy of your timeline. No current privacy controls will be changed.

Advertising is where things are slightly more complex. The actual advertising guidelines of Facebook are going to stay the same - what will change is the language used around posts and Likes to make the topics being discussed within posts clearer.

If any of these changes, or those Facebook has listed here, are of issue to you, then Facebook is letting you vote to either keep the current state of play or go for the new options.

However, the voting process itself is one of the key changes proposed. The current SRR document says that if more than 7,000 people leave a comment on a proposed amendment, Facebook has to run a vote on it, which is exactly what it's doing now. If 30 per cent of Facebook users vote against proposals, then the company has to reject them and maintain the status quo.

The new SRR removes this option for amendments, so under the new SRR, you'll have no option to push for this type of vote. In effect, this vote is for you to maintain the option to vote on changes to how Facebook governs the social network.

If you feel that that you/we/the people, need to retain a say in changes that Facebook wants make, then you should take part in the vote. If you're of no opinion then you can pretty much ignore the email.