Perhaps giving ideas to poorly run democracies everywhere, Facebook is giving users one last chance to keep the right to vote on data use policy changes. If too few voters turn out, all users lose the right to vote on future changes.
Facebook users have always had the right to vote on data policy changes, as long as 30 percent of all users submit a vote. That’s never happened. Now the site is following advice from regulators, such as the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s Office, on how to legally eliminate the process entirely. Facebook’s worldwide operations are run by Facebook Inc. in the US and Facebook Ireland Ltd.
Elliot Schrage, Facebook VP, Communications, Public Policy and Marketing, responded to concerns in a blog entry, writing, “We’ve revised this proposal to make it clear that the sharing of information among our affiliates is and will be done in compliance with all applicable laws, and where additional consent of our users is required, we will obtain it.”
The proposed changes cover governance, data sharing with affiliates, user ownership of content and privacy controls, and advertising policies. They are described in detail by Facebook Site Governance.
Voting has already begun and ends on December 10 at 3pm EST. If 30 percent of users submit a vote, as tabulated by an independent auditor, the vote is binding. Facebook calls the vote “advisory” should fewer than 30 percent of users participate.
At the time of this writing, nearly 92 percent of votes were in favor of keeping existing data use and governance policies, but with fewer than 135,000 votes cast.