Voting ended today in Facebook’s first move to become a democracy. The user-developed governance policy won by a huge margin but due to the vote count getting nowhere near its target, Facebook is essentially free to do what it wants with the result.
February saw Facebook suddenly change its Terms of Service to one which meant it effectively owned you forever, even if you deleted your account. The media wasn’t happy, the blogosphere wasn’t happy, and above all a lot of Facebook users weren’t happy.
This meant Facebook had to back down or risk upsetting a large number of its users. These same users were asked to contribute their thoughts and feelings on the ToS and the dual Facebook Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities were born. A vote was promised, and that chance to vote was delivered last week.
Unfortunately, Facebook enforced a stupidly high minimum vote count of 30 percent of active users (roughly 60 million users). This figure was never going to be hit and Facebook knew it. Which is why I ended up effectively labeling Mark Zuckerberg as a dictator.
The vote lasted for a week and ended earlier today. The result was as expected – an overwhelming victory for the SRR, but the number of users who took the opportunity to vote was a little less sweet. In all, about 660,000 people voted. Which is about 1 percent rather than the 30 percent needed to carry the vote.
According to Inside Facebook, the user-inspired SRR won by a 74 to 26 percent majority but because of the low turnout the result means absolutely zilch. Facebook is left in the enviable position of doing what the hell it wants. It can choose to listen to that tiny percentage of people who voted and be praised for its openness and embracing of democracy, or it can ignore it completely.
SFGate claims that Facebook will take the former option, accept the vote, and change its ToS to the SRR. But nothing is yet official on that score. It would be nice to see it go that way but I’ll personally be waiting for Mark Zuckerberg’s official blog post on the matter.
Looking at the bigger picture, what the hell happened to all those people so intensely opposed to the new ToS in February? It looks as though the majority of Facebook users either couldn’t care less what they’re agreeing to when signing up for an account or are just too lazy to bother voting. Which is disappointing to say the least.