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Polls close to determine Facebook voting future

Vast majority want to keep old policy, but not enough votes cast to make a difference

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 10, 2012 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/2c44

If you were waiting to vote on Facebook’s proposed policy changes, including whether or not to continue allowing you to be able to vote on similar changes in the future, then you waited too long, as the polls have already closed, and results are not close.

As of right now, 589,141 people have voted to keep the current Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and only 79,731 voting for implementing Facebook’s proposed changes. Great news, right? The people have had their say, and the old policy stands!

Well, actually no. The new policy will still be going into affect, unless there are somehow another 289 million or so people whose votes have not been counted yet.

You see, if Facebook worked like every other democracy, then whichever side got the most votes would win. Instead, the way the current system works, only if 30% of all Facebook users vote for or against the new proposals, will the result stick. If less than 30% of users vote, then the result merely becomes “advisory,” and is essentially meaningless.

Because Facebook has around one billion members, that means that at least 300 million would have to take part in this to alter what Facebook is proposing to do. I would call the chances of that happening to less than likely.

There is some good news: this vote easily beats the last time Facebook held a policy vote back in June, when only 342,632 of the then 900,000 users took the time to give their opinion. So people do want their voice to be heard, just not enough to make any kind of difference.

So say goodbye to vote ability to vote on the changes Facebook wants to make from now on.

What changes will be going into effect

  • No more voting

First, as I said, it will eliminate the right of Facebook users to vote on proposed policy changes, replacing it with new ways for users to voice their frustrations, including Ask the Chief Privacy Officer, which will let users submit questions directly to Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer of Policy, Erin Egan.

In a blogpost explaining the changes, Elliot Schrage, Vice President, Communications, Public Policy and Marketing at Facebook, wrote that “the voting mechanism, which is triggered by a specific number of comments, actually resulted in a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality.”

“Therefore, we’re proposing to end the voting component of the process in favor of a system that leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement,” he said. 

  • Instagram integration

Facebook added a section to its Data Use Policy called “Affiliates,” which says that Facebook can share users information with other businesses, or affiliates, “that are legally part of the same group of companies that Facebook is part of.”

 “Likewise, our affiliates may share information with us as well.”

This means that Facebook would be allowed to share users information with companies that it has purchased, such as Instagram.

  • New message filters

Facebook said that it would be replacing the “Who can send you Facebook messages” setting on Facebook Message, which allows users to filter which other Facebook users are allowed to contact them. In the proposed changes, Facebook will allow anyone to comment on any message thread.

Facebook had no comment on the results so far.

(Image source: http://venturebeat.com)


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