Facebook User Vote Ends, Facebook Eliminates Voting

December 10th, 2012 by Search Influence Alumni

Facebook VoteLast week, Facebook gave its users the ability to vote on a proposed set of changes to the site’s governance and privacy policy. The proposed changes specifically dealt with the sharing of your data with affiliates (specifically Instagram), how and what users can message you on the site, privacy and deletion concerns with photos, and last, the ability of users to vote on Facebook changes at all.

While this vote had the highest turnout of any prior ones, Facebook required a remarkably high turnout (30% of users or 300 million) of voters for the vote to even count. In the end, 619,000 users voted on the proposed changes, with 87% of them voting to keep the current privacy policy. Because of Facebook’s near-unattainable 30% participation threshold, however, the participating users’ overwhelming opposition will only be held in consideration (read: ignored) while Facebook moves forward with its policy changes, which have drawn fire from online privacy organizations such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy. In short, the entire exercise was an unapologetic charade.

What do these changes likely mean for the user? They mean that Facebook can share users’ gender, age, work history, etc. with its affiliates. This data will most likely be used to feed ads into Facebook’s recent acquisition, Instagram. The changes to Facebook’s privacy policy also mean that users will not be able to block people they do not know from contacting them, which means a whole lot more unsolicited spam in your inbox.

This entire bread and circus act has the potential to seriously backfire on the ‘book as its policy flailing grows increasingly erratic. Are we seeing the beginning of a Myspace-esque fall from grace, or will the advertising revenue make up for users’ vocal opposition?