Facebook's 'Ask Our CPO' Privacy Dialogue Launches in the Wake of the Death of the User Vote

Josh WolfordSocial Media

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Prior to mid-December of last year, Facebook ran a program that asked users to vote on any prospective changes to the site's policies, mainly the Statement of Right and Responsibilities and the Data Use policy. It was called the Site Governance vote, and allowed any users to vote on whether they thought Facebook should adopt the new privacy policies that they were proposing, or if they should just leave things as is.

Facebook required a 30% turnout on each Site Governance vote in order to act on the will of the user base. Anything short of that, Facebook logged the user base's decision as "advisory" and simply went about their business. No Site Governance vote saw even 1% turnout.

With the last site Governance Vote, Facebook allowed users to vote on whether or not they wanted to retain the ability to vote. Only about 700K users voted through the app out of a required 30 million (give or take). So, as of December of 2012, Facebook users no longer get to vote on any changes to Facebook policy.

When Facebook eliminated the vote, they announced that instead, users would be able to participate in a new program designed to bring privacy concerns to the table and make Facebook policy more transparent.

It's called "Ask Our Chief Privacy Officer" and Facebook just launched it.

"Ask Our CPO" lets users submit privacy-related questions to Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer, Erin Egan. Then every so often, Egan will publish her responses to some of the questions.

You can access the Ask Our CPO app here. You'll be required to submit your name, email, and country along with your privacy question.

And don't bother submitting any privacy queries specific to your personal account - that's not what this is for.

At Facebook, we work hard to build and maintain your trust. We understand that you’ll want to share on Facebook only if you trust us to protect the privacy and security of your information. We also understand that issues about privacy can be complex given the fast-moving nature of technology and that you have questions about privacy...

To help continue this conversation, we created this Ask Our CPO feature, which will enable you to send us your questions, concerns, and feedback about privacy -- and give us the opportunity to share with you how we think about privacy. We hope this feature will serve as a regular forum where we can have a direct conversation about privacy.

In the first Ask Our CPO note, Egan talks about some common privacy-related questions that she receives on a daily basis (in lieu of any actual questions from users yet).

It's good to see Facebook launch a new privacy resource, although it's unclear how many users will take the time to further the dialogue. If you said "Facebook and Privacy" in a crowded room, everyone would most likely have their opinion on the issue. But as the failed Site Governance voting program proves, there's not a ton of interest in utilizing the Facebook-sponsored channels to address privacy on the network.

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf