June 4, 2012

Facebook Privacy Policy Voting: a Debacle?

As you probably know, Facebook is holding a vote on its new privacy policy. Heralded as a great democratic move, it might become another fiasco (after the IPO debacle).

As you probably know, Facebook is holding a vote on its new privacy policy. Heralded as a great democratic move, it might become another fiasco (after the IPO debacle).

In short, this vote is about proposed privacy changes (https://apps.facebook.com/fbsitegovernancevote/contests/230120). Facebook is expecting large numbers of voters, it is mentioned in newspapers and receiving a lot of attention. Vote is June 1st to 8th, so we are almost mid way. Facebook says the results will be felt as compulsory if a third of potential voters participate, a number around 220 million users. I read an article this morning mentioning more votes and elections in the largest countries and similar rhetoric.

You can read about this is many places. Some reasonalbe view are here, here, and here.

I did vote this morning (against the change, for what it matters) and saw the current result. Below is an update from the afternoon:

Two things are worth noticing. First, most voters are clearly against the privacy settings change. I don't think most Facebook users want more privacy, but they don't want the company to sell their information...

The second and more relevant issue is the absolute numbers. If this is true there were 100,000 voters, this is really a minority fraction, about 0,1% of the potential voters. The 220 millions mark is a bit far.... If things don't change dramatically, this won't be the first case of global e-democracy, but the first failure of such an idea.  I guess Facebook and journalists should have saved the rhetoric until AFTER the vote!



Facebook Privacy Policy Voting a Debacle? 

Debacle? What if your photo with a drink in your hand,
posted on someones facebook page, gets face-recognized
by a prospective employer?
Comment by stan dents on June 5, 11:53

Facebook Privacy Policy Voting a Debacle? 

It's not being advertised on Facebook - at least, not for me.  That 
means you have to know about it, and find the URL, in order to vote.  
This is a huge barrier in the way of voting.  It would be easy for them to 
place a notice at the top of the site the way they've done before, or even 
directly place the poll on a user's page, but they haven't.

That implies to me that they don't really want as much user 
participation as they claim.  Ie, it's set up to fail.
Comment by David M [] on June 5, 13:12

Facebook Privacy Policy Voting a Debacle? 

 Expecting "a third of potential voters participate" is a HUGE hill to 

FB may have nearly 800 million "registered users" -- ie., "potential 
voters", the question is... how many "active users" are there in any given 
7-day time period?

And, how many of these "active users" actually know about the vote?

This is the first I've heard of it and I'm on FB daily, although I don't pay 
much attention to the ads and other crap displayed around the borders.  
If they're trying to promote this as any other ad or "recommendation", 
I'm not even going to notice it.

So the "debacle" here is that while FB pretends to open this up for the 
entire FB population, they're not doing much to actually PROMOTE it to 
said population.  And there's no way in hell that a third of all "registered 
users" are going to vote if even "active users" don't know about it.
Comment by David on June 8, 15:46

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