It's Facebook Election Week: Here's How You Can Vote on Your Privacy

Kate Freeman

It's time to exercise your democratic right -- not at the ballot booth, but on Facebook.

The social network is calling on users to vote on which privacy rules will govern the site. As in most elections, you only really have two choices: the current documents, or new ones drawn up with the help of user feedback.

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So what's different about the new privacy rules? Comparing the current and new rules side-by-side, one thing jumped out at us: the new Data Use Policy. It contains an expanded list of activities in which user data can be collect by Facebook -- whether you're interacting with an app or something else on the site.

The company states that "if more than 30% of all active registered users vote, the results will be binding. If turnout is less than 30%, the vote will be advisory."

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In other words, some 300 million users will have to vote to make this definitive. That's roughly the same number as the population of the U.S.

Voting started this Friday and ends the following week, Friday June 8 at 9 a.m. PT. You can vote here.

In March, Facebook made changes to its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (commonly referred to as terms of use) and Data Use Policy, which outlines how Facebook controls user privacy and protects user safety on the site, among other things. It asked users for feedback on the new documents and received 150,000 comments. Facebook incorporated that feedback into the new policies, and it's now asking users to vote on which policy you prefer, current or new.

The company said a lot of users simply asked for expanded explanations on certain sections, which it did in the new policies.

Right away, you'll notice that the Privacy Policy is now listed as the Data Use Policy. This is not new; Facebook made that change last fall, but now they're making all the wording consistent. In the new Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, Facebook goes into greater detail about user privacy and explains what the changes in the documents' wording means for users.

The new Data Use Policy will include an entire section with examples, too, just to make things more clear. Facebook says the "vast majority" of changes between the two documents are changes in wording and how sections are explained, not how user data is captured.

Facebook held a site governance vote in 2009. A spokesperson from Facebook said 665,654 votes were cast to support the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Principles, which won by a margin of 74.37%.

Are you going to vote? For which policy and why? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, lisafx

This story originally published on Mashable here.