Facebook really needs to move it's headquarters to Iran or North Korea, it would fit in culturally so much better with those two democracy loving governments...although these days I guess the USA is getting pretty close to those two in terms of democracy.
By Fahmida Y. Rashid, Jun 11, 2012 4:13 PM EST
Facebook closed its voting application that allowed its users to weigh in on the proposed privacy changes last week. Of the 342,600 users who voted over a seven-day period, 297,833 of them, or 87 percent, opposed the changes. The site claims about 901 million active users, so total turnout was less than 1 percent.
As Security Watch reported earlier, the company had originally outlined the changes in a Facebook post in May. The changes, partially crafted in response to a recent audit by the Irish data commissioner, focused on how the company could use user photographs and other data as well as what information would be available to third-party advertisers. Facebook clarified that user data would be shared with advertisers to deliver relevant ads, and that Facebook will "store data for as long as it is necessary."
"A very very small minority of people that use Facebook voted, which was pretty disappointing from our point of view," Facebook spokeswoman Jaime Schopflin told PCWorld.
Facebook to Ignore Results
The company was forced to open the changes to public debate after the post collected more than 7,000 user comments. However, since less than 30 percent of users took part in the vote, the company could treat the results as "advisory," Elliot Schrage, vice-president of communications, public policy and marketing, wrote June 8. The company will move forward and adopt the proposed updates, Schrage wrote, despite the fact that fact just 13 percent of the users who voted supported the changes.
According to Facebook's "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities," 30 percent of users, or more than 270 million users, would have been required to vote in order to make the results binding.
"Despite our substantial outreach effort, the number of people who voted constituted such a small and unrepresentative percentage of our user community," Schrage wrote. The outreach efforts included translating the documents and voting application into different languages and notifying users about the poll through news feeds and advertisements, he said.
One user criticized Facebook's efforts in a comment to the post announcing the voting results. "Couldn't your 'substantial outreach effort' have included something as simple as a message that showed up on each and every Facebook user's page????" the commenter wrote.
The company plans to review the voting process to determine how to increase user engagement and feedback, according to Schrage.
Opting Out of Privacy
Facebook has struggled with user privacy, with critics accusing the social networking giant of continuously changing its policies and making it difficult to manage privacy settings. Users are often unclear about what Facebook is allowed to do with their data, and are often unaware how much data is already available on their profile.
Nearly 13 million US Facebook users have never set, or don’t know about, Facebook’s privacy tools, and only 37 percent have used Facebook's privacy tools to customize how much information is shared with third parties, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey.
Shortly after the company went public, many Facebook users posted a "privacy notice" on their Walls claiming all the content posted on the profile are "private and legally privileged and confidential information," and that people are "strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action."
Posting the message doesn't accomplish anything, according to Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at Sophos. "If you are uncomfortable with Facebook monetizing your content or making your content available to the US government you either need to avoid posting the content to Facebook, or more carefully control your privacy settings and hope the authorities don't seek a court order for your information," Wisniewski wrote on Naked Security.
For more from Fahmida, follow her on Twitter @zdFYRashid.