Facebook hands users power over advertising

Facebook is replacing its advertising terms and conditions with a new 'statement of rights and responsibilities' that will be drawn up with extensive, democratic input from its users.

After another backlash from users in recent weeks over how it uses their data, the world's biggest social networking site has decided to offer them what it claims is an "unprecedented role" in how Facebook is governed.

It has also given in on the subject of the latest backlash, accepting that when users delete content or terminate their accounts that means its permission to use their content expires.

Facebook and two users have drafted two guiding documents that any member can comment on over the next 30 days. Users making the most insightful comments will be invited to serve on a new user council, which will participate in future policy development.

One of the two users involved, Julius Harper, who steered protests by co-founding the People Against the new Terms of Service group on Facebook, said: "This decision should go far in restoring people's trust, and I hope it sets a precedent for other online services to follow."

The draft Principles of the Facebook Service and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities have been published on the site. Input will be considered before final versions are published and then voted on.

Facebook said the second document would take the place of its existing terms of use, developer terms of service and its advertising terms and conditions and it has condensed 40 pages of "legal jargon" into fewer than six pages.

It pledges that all future policy changes, but not decisions about the timing and rollout of products, will be eligible for a vote by users "provided the level of intensity of user interest would justify it" -- 30% appears to be the guide.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, said: "The past week reminded us that users feel a real sense of ownership over Facebook itself, not just the information they share. Companies like ours need to develop new models of governance.

"The changes we're announcing today are designed to open up Facebook so that users can participate meaningfully in our policies and our future."

The move was welcomed by privacy lobbyists who were pre-advised before the company's press announcement.

Simon Davies, director, Privacy International. "The devil will be in the detail but, overall, we applaud these positive steps and think they foreshadow the future of web 2.0."

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