Looming Facebook Vote Threatens to Abolish Your Voice in New Regime — Vote Now To Save It

Your apathy might just cost you future “likes.” Got your attention now, don’t I?

Facebook is currently hosting a public vote on their website to determine the future of Facebook options — including public voting.
The Facebook vote, which starts Monday, December 3rd, and runs through next Monday at noon (PST) and will be overseen and tabulated by a third party, will be a determining factor in how Facebook will conduct its operations for the foreseeable future. The ballot includes such factors as Facebook’s ability to share your private information with its subsidiary entities (Instagram is the example listed), how users control who can send them messages, and that aforementioned ability to have a vote in everything.
Already, two privacy advocacy groups have collaborated on a letter to Facebook, urging them to consider the ramifications of their actions. Here is a taste of what that letter says: “Because these proposed changes raise privacy risks for users, may be contrary to law, and violate your previous commitments to users about site governance, we urge you to withdraw the proposed changes.” Strong stuff, yeah?
More than 100,000 people have already weighed in on the policy changes (most of them strongly against them), but that isn’t enough. Facebook now requires 30% of its 1 billion strong user-base to weigh in before it will consider the results binding. Anything less than that, and the vote becomes a simple “advisement” for the governing board of Facebook to consider. As Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of communications, public policy, and marketing, blogged last week, Facebook wants a “system that leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement.” Maybe they could start by making the online ballot box easier to find. I had to dig around the site in order to cast my vote. But an easily accessed ballot is not exactly in the “best interest of the stockholders” is it? You, on the other hand, can vote by clicking here.

The vote is particularly controversial because it effectively is a vote to end the “democracy” that Facebook has championed since 2009. Back then, a grassroots protest against policy changes that seemed to make Facebook copyright owner over all your posts spurred the social media giant into adopting an unheard of “public vote” to determine the enacting of new policy. Since, Facebook became a publicly-traded company in 2012 though, they’ve begun to play by a different set of ideals with a seemingly impossibly high set bar.

Facebook’s democracy has never really been popular in practice with users, as the last two votes taken have only attracted voter levels in the hundreds of thousands of users — well short each time of the percentage necessary for the public’s “voice” to matter. Most users don’t even seem to realize they have a voice. This time has to be different though. This thing that Facebook does, this public voting, this “democracy” — it is important and rare, and unique, and it would be a shame to lose it. So spread the word and vote — show the governing board of Facebook that this power you have is good and worth fighting for.

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