Cambridge researchers slam Facebook democracy

The University of Cambridge's Computing Laboratoryhas slammed Facebook's attempt to give users a democratic vote on its controversial Terms of Use document.

The University of Cambridge's Computing Laboratoryhas slammed Facebook's attempt to give users a democratic vote on its controversial Terms of Use document.

Users can vote from now until Thursday on whether to accept the Terms of Use, but the researchers at Cambridge said that their vote would have little real impact.

The researchers warned that simple principles at the start of the Facebook documents are deceptively overridden by detailed legal language later onthat users are unlikely to understand.

PhD students Jonathan Anderson and Joseph Bonneau have been researching Facebook privacy and publishingpapers describing its flaws. In a nine page paper the researchers found that the voting process was full of loopholes, and stated that voting was effectivelya publicity stunt.

The researchers claim that none of the substantive points has been addressed, and the revised document is effectively identical to the original version, with merely superficial changes. Facebook has given its users seven days in which to vote to either accept the new terms or to stick with the old version.

Anderson, said,"Users ought to be really angry that Facebook thinks they can be so easily fooled; this vote is a sham, a meaningless choice between two documents written by Facebook which incorporate nouser feedback".

Professor Ross Anderson, at the universitysaid,"Facebook has wasted the opportunity to create a new structure for a social networking site. We should not be surprised that corporations do not want to give power to their users, but pretending that the site is democratic when it is not is offensive - it is reminiscent of the old German Democratic Republic, which was actually a Russian colony and not democratic at all".

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