Thousands of people have posted to Facebook's Governance page demanding that the social network allow users the right to vote on proposed policy changes. As the comment period closed this morning on the network's latest round of revisions, more than 20,000 posts had been made. But Facebook is unlikely to change its stance.
Along with changes to its data use policy, Facebook has proposed to eliminate a members' ability to vote on changes to its governing documents. Instead, Facebook users will be alerted to changes by email, have seven days to comment on them and be able to submit questions to Facebook policy staff.
Facebook said that its voting system incentivized quantity over quality. Last June, policy changes were put to a vote after an Austrian student-led advocacy group, Europe V. Facebook, prompted users to post around 30,000 copies of its demand for Facebook user rights. The number of comments far exceeded Facebook's 7,000-post threshold needed for a vote, but did not address specific proposed changes. Further, less than 1 percent of users participated in the vote. Read more: Facebook's Policy Tweaks Fail to Connect with Users ]
This time, the student-led group is demanding that Facebook retain user voting rights, increase user privacy and control over data, and obtain explicit consent from each of its more than 1 billion users when changing the data use policy.
Its website, our-policy.org, urged people to cut-and-paste the following line into the comment box on Facebook's Governance page: "I oppose the changes and want a vote about the demands on www.our-policy.org." Most of the 20,000 comments were copies of the suggested statement.
The Austrian group is not the only organization concerned about Facebook's proposed policy changes . The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Digital Democracy, two digital rights advocacy organizations, expressed concern over the changes in a letter to Mark Zuckerberg on Nov. 27, which was posted to the latter's website. In it, both organizations said "scrapping the [voting] mechanism altogether raises questions about Facebook’s willingness to take seriously the participation of Facebook users."
It is unlikely that Facebook will reinstate voting. And even if it did to appease its opponents, it is even less likely that enough members would participate.