Facebook's privacy vote - what the email actually means

Unless 300 million people (a third of Facebook's users) vote `against' by Monday 8pm GMT, the networking giant will no longer allow users to vote on policy changes.

The move has caused concern among privacy groups, who say it's "impossible" for 300 million to vote in the time period, and that users are worried that their "voices will no longer be heard".

So far, the vote stands at less than half a million, but is around six to one against the new Statement of Rights and Data Usage Policy.

The wording of the vote itself is not a simple 'Yes' or 'No' -- to vote against, users have to select, `Existing Documents: The current SRR and Data Use Policy,' as opposed to `Proposed Documents: The proposed SRR and Data Use Policy'

The voting page is here.

I admit that I ignored this email when I first got it a couple of days ago, because I couldn't understand WTF they were asking me to vote on. "Do you like the 30 pages of contract-ese on the left, or on the right? Take several hours to study them! No, we don't provide a diff."

And now it's doing this repeatedly: Well played, Facebook. Well played.

Update: To the surprise of absolutely nobody: Facebook ignores 'minimal' user vote, adopts new privacy policy. "Yes, 668,872 people voted, and of those, 589,141 said they were opposed to the new documents. But Facebook confirmed today in a blog post that it had "decided to adopt the proposed updates" to the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) and Data Use Policy. [...] If you've been following along, this means that Facebook will definitely discontinue votes of this kind."

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17 Responses:

  1. Andy Murdoch says:

    Brilliantly, the voting site also gives a security certificate warning (at least in Firefox).

  2. Dawn says:

    Actually the link to the voting page is here

    The link jwz gave is to the Site Governance's timeline which naturally doesn't directly link to the voting page.

    • nooj says:

      interesting. you can vote from the iphone app! you still can't type urls directly afaik, but search for "site governance" (not "fb site governance" or "fbsitegovernance").

  3. lila says:

    when i looked at it and voted a few days ago, i did find a diff...

  4. The sad thing is that easily 300 million people reposted that legally illiterate “Berner convention” copypasta last week. Or so it seemed.

  5. Jonathan says:

    I got the same error until I turned off the blocking of facebook connect tracking (which I turned right back on after voting).

  6. Peter Hollo says:

    Having turned off Ghostery and therefore managed to vote (thanks Jonathan above!) I see that 498,504 have voted for the existing documents. Does this mean that Good has triumphed over Evil?

    • DR Tong says:

      Not even close.

      "if more than 30% of all active users vote, the results will be binding. If turnout is less than 30%, the vote will be advisory."

      As of now, not even a million people have voted and the voting ends in 1.5 hours.

      • Pavel Lishin says:

        So, does this actually affect anything? If the turnout was 100%, would that legally force Facebook to act differently? Or could they reverse/ignore the vote trivially?

  7. Someone else went to the trouble of typing up a diff of the SRRs. You don’t know whether it’s accurate, of course, but you can use it as a map for the legalese to go directly to the places in question and compare them yourself, which should give you enough of the flavour of the current vs proposed documents to pick one or the other option.

    In both the SRR and the DUP, the controversial changes are in the last parts of the document.

  8. asan102 says:

    Actually they do have a diff (or as they refer to it 'redline') which you can find in the documents section of the Facebook Governance page, although they of course don't provide a link to that from the voting form. I don't have any special facebook-blocking setup but I still got an error which prevented me from using the 'share your vote on your timeline' feature, but supposedly registered my vote.. The beauty of democracy.

  9. Tom Lord says:

    My impression is that Facebook isn't all that progressive in its policies. I think they are mostly just trying to make money, even at the expense of users and civic life generally. Anyone else noticed that?

  10. Joe says:

    I like that diff idea, for if I start ever reading all that legal crap.

  11. Pavel Lishin says:

    So a corporation is asking us to vote on whether we will vote again on matters that the corporation can easily ignore?

  12. Leonardo Herrera says:

    So, what should I vote?