Facebook Considers Ending Digital Voting Rights

November 22nd, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Most of Facebook‘s users may not know it, but they are allowed to vote on major issues on how a social network of 1 billion people should be governed. However, Facebook’s experiment with internet democracy may come to a halt as the social network has proposed Wednesday to take away its users’ right to vote.

The reaction in the online community has been unwelcoming.

“Facebook now argues that it is too big for democracy, much like the Chinese government might,” writes Michael Phillips on BuzzFeed. “Call this new regime Facebook with Authoritarian Characteristics.”

This so-called digital voting rights was introduced into Facebook in 2009, allowing users to vote on major changes on how the social network utilizes user data and privacy. A vote is triggered if 7,000 users commented on a particular proposal; if 30% of Facebook’s active users (around 300 million) voted against the change, the social network would abandon it.

Facebook, however, wants to ditch that system. Instead, it introduces new ways for users to submit questions to Facebook’s privacy team. The company claims that the network has become very large, with more than a billion users, and that it is a publicly-traded company now.

“We deeply value the feedback we receive from you during our comment period,” the website says in a press release published a day before Thanksgiving. “In the past, your substantive feedback has led to changes to proposals we made. However, we found 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.”

Facebook adds: “We will continue to post significant changes to our Data Use Policy and SRR (Statement of Rights and Responsibilities) and provide a seven-day period for review and comment. As always, we will carefully consider your feedback before adopting any changes.”

Source: Buzzfeed, via CNN

Photo credit: Canadian Press


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