Nearly a year ago, we committed to an open and transparent system of governance for Facebook. Specifically, we now post all proposed changes to our governing documents before they go into effect and solicit feedback on these proposals from the people who use Facebook. Since we started this unique process—in fact, we think we're the only major online service that does this—we've gone through several successful rounds of changes, and your comments have been invaluable to the process.
All web services occasionally have to change their governing... documents to accommodate new products. They just may not tell you about these changes, much less give you advance notice. Today, we're giving you that notice and beginning the process of listening to your feedback.
So, today, we explain some of these policy changes, and sometime soon—when we're done designing and coding—we'll have more product details to announce. It is important to note that, while we're still developing many aspects of these products, user control over privacy remains essential to our innovation process and we'll continue to develop new tools to help you control the things you share on Facebook.
As always, we encourage you to review the newest proposed changes in their entirety and provide your own thoughts on the Facebook Site Governance Page.
Here are some of the biggest updates, a few of which are simply clarifications or further explanations of things that already happen today:
So, we've removed the old language and, instead added the concept of a "place" that could refer to a Page, such as one for a local restaurant. As we finalize the product, we look forward to providing more details, including new privacy controls.
Sharing and Connections
Facebook is primarily about two things: Connecting with the people, places, and things that are important to you, and sharing information and content that you post with your friends and others. When you connect with a person through a friend request, or with a thing by joining a group or becoming a fan of a Page, that's a two-way public connection. You can control how the connection is presented on your profile, but it might be discovered in other ways, such as by going to the friend's profile or on the group's list of members.
When you share a link or photo on your profile, however, that's a one-way action, and you have complete control over who can access that content through your privacy settings.
This is exactly how Facebook works today, but we've added language to be even clearer.
Applications and Third-Party Websites
As we evolve our platform, our goal is to give you more ways to connect and share with your friends, not just on Facebook but also around the web.
Today, when you use applications such as games on Facebook.com or choose to connect to Facebook on sites across the web, you are able to find and interact with your friends. These applications require a small set of basic information about you in order to provide a relevant experience. After feedback from many of you, we announced in August that we were moving toward a model that gives you clearer controls over what data is shared with applications and websites when you choose to use them.
Finally, we've made a series of smaller changes to better explain how different aspects of Facebook work. For example, we've explained why invitations that non-users receive to join Facebook sometimes include the names of other people besides the person who sent the invitation. This is because those people have imported their own contact lists to Facebook, and those contact lists include the invited person's email address.
We've also explained the "Everyone" setting in more detail. People still own the information they post to Facebook, but the "Everyone" setting is designed to enable people to share content as broadly as possible. To enable this distribution, we allow others to see, access, display, export, distribute and redistribute content set to "Everyone" and we've tried to make this even clearer.
Finally, we've explained how people can sync their contact lists—such as on a mobile device—with information they have access to on Facebook.
We hope you'll take the time to review all of the changes we're proposing and share your comments. We're sending out updates to everyone's Inbox to notify you of the changes, and we encourage you to become a fan of the Facebook Site Governance Page to follow future updates. We look forward to reading your feedback.
Michael Richter is deputy general counsel for Facebook.