Vote ends on Facebook privacy changes, for good
Apathetic users mean vote falls far short of forcing Facebook to keep old rules
The vote, which ended Monday at 3 p.m. ET, showed 589,141 users opposed to the change and 79,731 in favor. At first glance, you'd think that means Facebook won't be able to move ahead. That's just not the case, though.
According to Facebook's standing rules, if more than 30% of all active registered users vote, the results are binding. If the voting turnout is less than 30%, the vote is nothing more than advisory. Since Facebook has more than 1 billion active users, more than 300 million people needed to vote for the decision to count.
As a result Facebook will be able to push through its policy change, which means users' comments will be less important and they'll no longer get a say on upcoming changes.
Facebook historically had a rule that any proposed policy changes that attracted 7,000 "substantive" comments would be put to a vote. That will no longer be the case.
Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said voters themselves just showed the issue isn't a big deal to users.
"So they only got .07% of the total 1 billion user base to participate in the election," he added. "The vast majority of users don't think about this stuff much. The ones you hear from are a very tiny, but vocal, minority."
However, this doesn't mean Facebook can just do anything it wants, Olds noted.
"They're so big now that every change they make will be scrutinized by major media outlets, business publications, blogs, and of course, users, too," he said. "Their moves will get even more attention, both good and bad. So they're still going to be accountable for what they do privacy-wise; it just won't be by a formal user vote."
In an earlier interview, Olds had said it makes sense for Facebook to want to amend the way it pushes policy changes through. The voting policy was written when the site was much smaller.
For example, Olds noted that it only took 7,000 users to force a vote on a Facebook privacy issue. With more than 1 billion worldwide users, that is one thousandth of 1% of total users.
"If the same principle was applied to the United States, it would mean that 2,100 hotheads could force a nationwide vote on whatever issue has them all hot and bothered," he said.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What to expect in Facebook's earnings call today
- Could you quit Facebook for 99 days?
- Facebook is a school yard bully that's going down
- EPIC says Facebook 'messed with people's minds,' seeks FTC sanctions
- 7 things you need to know about Facebook's mood experiment
- Facebook emotional manipulation test turns users into 'lab rats'
- Facebook tries to stop Snapchat drain with Slingshot
- TMI! Facebook moves to stop over-sharing
- Inside Facebook's brilliant plan to hog your data
- Facebook shows mobile app developers the money with new ad network
Read more about Social Media in Computerworld's Social Media Topic Center.
- The Truth About Cloud Security "Security" is the number one issue holding business leaders back from the cloud. But does the reality match the perception?
- Enable secure remote access to 3D data without sacrificing visual perfomance Design and manufacturing companies must adapt quickly to the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy. To speed time to market for...
- Virtually Delivered High Performance 3D Graphics "A picture is worth a thousand words." That old phrase is as true today as it ever was. Pictures (i.e., those with heavy...
- Best Practices for Securing Hadoop Historically, Apache Hadoop has provided limited security capabilities. To protect sensitive data being stored and analyzed in Hadoop, security architects should use a...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Responding to New SSL Cybersecurity Threat The featured Gartner research examines current strategies to address new SSL cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!