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Facebook Changes Privacy Policies, Scraps User Voting 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-it-and-weep dept.
Orome1 writes "The voting period for the proposed changes to Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Data Use Policy has ended on Monday, and despite the email sent out to the users asking them to review the changes and cast their vote, less than one percent of all users have done so. 'An external auditor has reviewed and confirmed the final results. Of the 668,872 people who voted, 589,141 recommended we keep our existing SRR and Data Use Policy,' stated Elliot Schrage, Facebook's vice president of communications, public policy, and marketing. Still, that is not nearly enough to prevent the proposed changes — as required by Facebook, at least 30 percent of the users should have voted against them in order to keep the previous versions of the policies. Schrage pointed out that that the whole experience illustrated the clear value of Facebook's notice and comment process."
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Facebook Changes Privacy Policies, Scraps User Voting

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  • haha (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:05PM (#42268477)

    Schrage pointed out that that the whole experience illustrated the clear value of Facebook's notice and comment process.

    It certainly succeeded in illustrating the value that process had, yes.

    • Re:haha (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:22PM (#42268589) Journal

      If Facebook cared about users voting, there would have been a notice every time you log on and an interstitial notice every X pages you clicked through.

      Then again, there's no apathy like online apathy.

      • Re:haha (Score:5, Insightful)

        by earlzdotnet (2788729) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:26PM (#42268617)
        This is on par with having a tiny link at the bottom of your page "opt out of you selling all the information I provide here". No one is going to see it. I remember receiving the email, but that was just yesterday or the day before. And the email didn't really include anything about voting in the subject line, so I just assume it was another privacy policy update.

        If they cared at all about people voting, they would've had a longer time frame than 2 days, and they would've used Facebook, not email to get the word out that you can vote on it. Most people I know don't even remember the password, much less check, the email account associated with facebook.
        • by aXis100 (690904)

          I didnt even see the email in my gmail account, though searching now it does show up. Quite possibly google collapsed it under another message from facebook as part of it's conversation mode, but however it happened it was easy enough to miss.

          2 days voting window is bollocks.

        • Two days, huh? Sometimes, I don't log in to Facebook for two weeks. Then, I seldom post anything. Two day.

          Basically, Facebook didn't really want anyone's opinion, aside from it's stockholders and management.

        • 2 days warning for something to vote on? Sounds almost like an unpopular law being pushed through the EU parliament.

        • For interest sake, I had the same issue. Here is the full text from the email. It contains no references to voting, and apart from a very generic "please give us feedback" sounds more like the changes have happened... not that *I* have the opportunity to directly affect this:

          We recently announced some proposed updates to our Data Use Policy, which explains how we collect and use data when people use Facebook, and our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR), which explains the terms governing use of

          • by Culture20 (968837)

            "We deeply value the feedback we receive from you during our comment period but have found that the voting mechanism created a system that incentivized quantity of comments over the quality of them. So, we are proposing to end the voting component"

            "But there wasn't enough quantity-wise, so we're getting rid of voting for the opposite reason..."

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        If Facebook cared about users voting, there would have been a notice every time you log on and an interstitial notice every X pages you clicked through.

        Then again, there's no apathy like online apathy.

        Unlike here at Slashdot where user voting on their privacy policies is so important that... hey, wait a minute...

        • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @01:13AM (#42269507) Journal

          Unlike here at Slashdot where user voting on their privacy policies is so important that... hey, wait a minute...

          I'm not sure I understand your point.
          Slashdot has never pretended to have any pretentions of democracy and has been corporate owned since 1999.

          If /. was going to allow us to vote on anything, they'd put it in the home page poll, where every /.er sees it.
          Facebook allowed their democratic initiative to die.

          • But what about the slashdot poll isn't it important to know how many books I read? Har
          • every /.er will see it, eh? I read this article because it popped up in my twitter feed. Im not sure where this poll is that you speak of and I probably wont see it. I'll close out this article and move along to the next item in my news feed
      • Re:haha (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TWX (665546) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:42PM (#42268735)
        If they really cared, they could simply prompt two or three times, then deny functionality of key features of the site until the user has voted or until enough votes have been cast or enough time has past that the ballot is closed.
        • by duk242 (1412949)
          Can you imagine what that would be like for IT people? "WHY CAN'T I USE FACEBOOK? IT'S NOT WORKING!! .... Oh that thing I just clicked remind me later..."
      • Re:haha (Score:5, Insightful)

        by digitallife (805599) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @11:05PM (#42268883)

        They probably don't care, and just didn't see a point in putting effort into bugging people. The reality is that its virtually impossible to get 30% of all Facebook users to even vote, let alone in agreement. In fact from stats I've seen, I don't even think 30% of facebook 'users' are active, let alone in the two day time frame they gave. Or put another way, if ever single user who logged into facebook during the vote had votes the same way, they'd be we'll short of the 30% requirement. The whole vote was just lip service to caring about what users think.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          They probably don't care, and just didn't see a point in putting effort into bugging people. The reality is that its virtually impossible to get 30% of all Facebook users to even vote, let alone in agreement. In fact from stats I've seen, I don't even think 30% of facebook 'users' are active, let alone in the two day time frame they gave. Or put another way, if ever single user who logged into facebook during the vote had votes the same way, they'd be we'll short of the 30% requirement. The whole vote was just lip service to caring about what users think.

          But any competent marketing department would get the hint when 589,141 out of 668,872 people disliked a proposed change.
          You need to poll far less than 30% to get a statistically significant result representing the wishes of those 1,000,000,000 idiots.

          Of course they dont care. They just arranged for a little drama to legitimize their deplorable business practices.

          • They care, you are just confusing customers with products. As has been said many times, the users of facebook are the product, the advertisers are the customers. There is no reason for a company to care about what its product thinks as long as it is confident that they won't run off or cause trouble.

          • But any competent marketing department would get the hint when 589,141 out of 668,872 people disliked a proposed change.
            You need to poll far less than 30% to get a statistically significant result representing the wishes of those 1,000,000,000 idiots.

            "Statistically Significant" doesn't really make sense here...that sort of computation assumes that the people being surveyed are a representative sample of all users.

            In this case we've got a pretty strong selection bias going on where people who are most upset about the new policy are the most likely to vote.

      • Re:haha (Score:5, Informative)

        by SourceFrog (627014) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @01:02AM (#42269449)
        I tried voting on this, and Facebook's own voting system kept failing on some or other unspecified technical "error", so I wouldn't entirely blame apathy, and apathy is also engendered by not bothering to have a working technical system for voting.
        • I tried voting on this, and Facebook's own voting system kept failing on some or other unspecified technical "error", so I wouldn't entirely blame apathy, and apathy is also engendered by not bothering to have a working technical system for voting.

          I also got the email and attempted to vote on this - and got the same voting 'error' you describe; knowing now that I was not the only one to experience this, has me wondering whether Facebook was more interested in seeing the voting process itself fail.

        • by mick129 (126225)
          I got a similar error. The voting page worked after I disabled Ghostery, so I guess part of the mechanism was blocked.
      • Re:haha (Score:5, Informative)

        by Splab (574204) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @01:21AM (#42269547)

        I received the information about the poll from facebook *after* it was over. The E-mail specifically told me that the vote would not change the result, but it might change how they would handle it in the future.

      • by Noughmad (1044096)

        The problem is not that Facebook doesn't care. The problem is that users don't care. You can't fix that.

      • There's only one word to describe how I feel about it.

        Meh.

      • by KiloByte (825081)

        As 90% of Facebook accounts are fraudulent (friend/"like" farms, etc), and most of the rest are either dupes or inactives, 1% is overwhelming response.

        Of course, when Facebook is concerned there's only one valid vote, and it includes AdBlock and iptables -j REJECT.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I never trusted facebook, and i stopped using my account a month or two ago, and my life is better for it.
      • by berashith (222128)

        Lack of trust was my issue also. I dont click on anything in facebook that says "click here to see or do ... " because normally that is followed by something expecting to have my permission to spread every last detail about me. Also, why would I believe that this is binding in any way.

    • by msauve (701917)
      Well, it's simple to vote again.

      Just permanently delete your account, as described here [facebook.com]. I just did.
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      I do not recall having received that e-mail.

      They have my e-mail address, I get notifications of comments all the time, so that's not the problem. More likely I deleted it as spam without reading. Together with all the rest of the junk pretending to be from Facebook.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This resembles the US electorial process. We offer you a vote to give you the illusion of influence, and then go ahead with what was already pre-decided.

    • You have marketed and sold the value of your product based on an interactive interface that can inform, update and interact with the user, then set up a voting system where you inform them of the vote by email, and the voting system is seemingly not coping with the volume of votes when less that 1% are trying ....

      As an exercise in proving the voting system is broken it worked very well

  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:10PM (#42268515)

    and out of those 589,141 ...589,136 were marketing and sales agents, the other 5 were spam-bots.

  • That's it! (Score:5, Funny)

    by caspy7 (117545) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:19PM (#42268569)

    That's the last straw Facebook! I've had it. I'm deleting my account!

    Really.

    Soon.

    Maybe tomorrow actually. ...
    Who am I kidding? I can't stay made at you.
    (See you soon!)

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by godrik (1287354)

      That's the last straw Facebook! I've had it. I'm deleting my account!

      Oh wait! I don't have one...

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        After going through the all the hassle of following the extended on-line instructions provided by everyone but Facebook and actually truly deleting a Facebook account, rejoining Facebook is one thing I will never do. People used to laugh at being probed by aliens but Facebook is probing it's members private bits everyday and they're too numb and dumb too notice.

      • by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @11:16PM (#42268955) Homepage

        That's the last straw Facebook! I've had it. I'm deleting my account!

        Oh wait! I don't have one...

        I don't have a TV! We should hang out.

        • by RulerOf (975607)

          That's the last straw Facebook! I've had it. I'm deleting my account!

          Oh wait! I don't have one...

          I don't have a TV! We should hang out.

          And I don't have a computer or an internet connection, so we should all get together and

          • by azalin (67640)
            So... your (mom's) collective basements where flooded?
            • This is why I bought a TBM, you should see the underground tunnel system I have under my mom's basement. It only takes me 3 hrs to get to NY from LA.
        • by jonadab (583620)
          I don't own a TV, and I haven't logged into Facebook in months. Also, one of my goals in life is to someday live in a house with no telephones at all.

          But I still don't want to hang out with you. Sorry.
    • You know, what's funny is that I actually did delete my FB account over issues just like this.

      I warned people for six months that I would be leaving. Of the 152 friends that I had, just a handful responded to my repeated posts asking people to email me their current contact data. It wasn't until about a month out, when someone realized that I was actually leaving FB. Then there was a shitstorm of comments about why I shouldn't. So, I pointed out the privacy policy issues, the general privacy issues, and

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They do what the fuck they want anyway. (And since it’s their server, and only our fuckin' social pressure pushing us into it, they also have the right to do whatever the fuck they want. [Unless they are harming somebody who didn't agree to accepting that.])

    I'm only there because of the girls anyway. (Good luck getting a phone number nowadays. Or them having the brains to have an IM/IRC account.)

    Nearly everyone (well, more than 99%, as we see here) would ditch Facebook in a heartbeat. And they know it

  • The 30% of users voting against requirement is stupid for the following reasons:
    - It seems to be based on 30% of *ALL* accounts (including fake ones that are rare ever used) instead of 30% of accounts that are active
    - If Facebook is willing to purpose anti-privacy friendly policies on the basis of it being an "industry standard" then even if it gets turned down this time, what is to stop them from just purposing more anti-privacy friendly policies next time? Or what is to stop them from purposing the same

  • 30%??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:31PM (#42268651) Homepage Journal

    Are 30% of FB users even active? How about the number of people with more than one account? What about people like my grandfather who only gets on FB to view updates and pictures from the dozen family that comprise his entire friend list?

    I assert that it is not even possible to get a response from 30% of FB users, especially with a passive voting process like this that requires the user to actively seek out and find where to vote. Maybe, just maybe, if FB would have put it right in front of the user's faces, where it was a popup message that has to be dismissed, then maybe up to 15-20% would participate.

    • by Andy Prough (2730467) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:46PM (#42268753)
      589,141 adult nerds are actively using Facebook

      Oh, and 99% (at least) of 14-year-old girls and spam bots don't care about Facebook's privacy policies.
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Part of the problem is that we equate accounts to users.

      That is simply wrong. Someone who has not logged in for a long time, say half a year, should not be considered a user.

      Many people have two or more accounts, counting a single user multiple times. Hard to filter out those.

      Then there are people that died. The longer a site exists, the more that is an issue. For sites like Facebook it is a real issue as the numbers are so huge, though the overall percentage of accounts of dead people should be low.

      Also so

    • by PingXao (153057)

      I'll put your grandfather's dozen friends up against anyone else's thousands when the chips are down.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      I think that is in some ways the more interesting part. By all reason the Facebook voting process is already so rigged the company basically can't lose. As it stands it basically boils down to Null votes count for the companies position; given the short time windows to respond, the number of inactive accounts and others, getting a large enough turn out to prevail over the companies position is as a practice matter impossible. Even if the turn out was big enough they'd still need to be almost 100% No vote

  • I assumed this was some form of spam/scam so did not participate. If it doesn't slam me in the face everytime I login I'll ignore it - my personal filters obviously work a little too well...
  • I have done a little research and posted information about the policy and the vote on my wall. As far as I know, almost nobody gave a f*ck about it. People just don't care about the policy of facebook as long as they can upload photos and post statuses.
  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:45PM (#42268747)

    despite the email sent out to the users asking them to review the changes and cast their vote, less than one percent of all users have done so.

    If they sent that to the me @facebook.com, I'm not aware of how to read that - I don't consider it a valid email address. I don't recall ever seeing this alleged email. I suppose if it came to my correct address it would have been deleted like all the other crap they send me.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:49PM (#42268765)

    Folks, Facebook is a *BUSINESS*, and you are not the customer. What makes you think you *should* be able to vote on Facebook policies unless you are a stock holder?

    You know, the Facebook Bitching is getting quite pathetic, from the tone of most of it, one might think people were actually being forced to be on Facebook.

    But of course, that's not the case. In fact, it's like fast food: You don't like Big Macs? Don't eat at McDonald's for Christ's sake...

    Seriously, I don't listen to Justin Bieber, either. You know why? I don't like Bieber's "music", and as yet there is nothing actually compelling me to listen to Mr. Bieber.

    So all you Ant-Facebook folks, two points: 1.) Don't use Facebook. 2.) Stop bitching about Facebook, and get a life.

    Seriously.

    • by multiben (1916126)
      I basically agree with you, but over the last few years I have found myself in an irritating situation. Most of my stupid friends are now FB devotees, and I find that unless I have some FB presence I'm dropping off the social scene :(. What used to be organised by phone or email is almost always done on FB now. So, I've decided to use it at arm's length and hope it goes away some day.
    • Facebook is DEFINITELY a two way street.

      If users didn't contribute a bunch of status updates, photo collections and spend time commenting on what other users posted, the company would quickly fail.

      In that sense, it's really pretty much nothing like fast food. McDonalds doesn't rely on people walking in its door contributing food and drinks so others will come in and exchange them for other food and drinks of their own (while profiting from the sale of advertising targeted at all the people walking in).

      And w

      • Facebook is DEFINITELY a two way street.

        I beg to differ.

        You have bought into the idea that Facebook is YOUR "community", and yet it is nothing of the sort. You have bought into the same bullshit that made people use to think that The Mall was somehow their "community".

        The truth is, the times are changing and social networking has become a central part of many people's daily lives.

        This changes nothing, and indeed simply goes to show your total misunderstanding of what Facebook (and other "social networks") are.

        If you think you have any "rights" to make decisions over what Facebook does or does not do, you simply and totally misunderstand what Facebook actuall

        • I never said Facebook users had any "right" to dictate how the company runs their website. I suggested that if FB's owners are prudent, they'll voluntarily LISTEN to the users and their wishes.

          Perhaps asking people to vote on changes isn't the best mechanism for that? (The low response rate sure indicates it.) But there's no legal requirement anyplace for FB to act on what's voted on by the users, in any case. They can still override any vote at any time, for any reason. They may as well call the whole th

    • Re:Good Grief. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sir-gold (949031) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @12:09AM (#42269215)
      If the service is free, the product is YOU
      • by Anonymous Coward

        If the service is free, the product is YOU

        Does that means that in Soviet Russia if the product is free, the service is YOU?

    • by Jarmihi (2589777)
      Then I posit this:

      Facebook has a sort of "social monopoly." (I'm not talking about money.) Many people use it, and for them, it's the only way to stay in touch with certain people. There is just no other place to go that is so widely used and so accessible. So I ask you:

      Where do you send the people who are tired of Facebook? Google+? It's not used enough. Only 10 of my acquaintances use Google+ while all of my acquaintances, friends, best friends, family, and love interests are on Facebook.

      We're in
  • There are an increasingly large number of reasons for Facebook Inc to NOT actively remove fake, fraudulent, and duplicate accounts. This is yet another one.
  • You have given up all dignity already !! Or, maybe you just like it that way !! In either case, you have gotten what you deserve !! Enjoy !!

  • Facebook stole social networking from the Internet .The concept is locked up on private servers held by a private company. He who giveth can also taketh away.
  • If I were Facebook, I'd put the surveys on an a server like advertising.facebook.com. That way they wouldn't put surveys to the people using advertising blocking proxies.

    Don't survey the people that would likely give results you don't want. Then you can change the wording so Mom and Pop generate the answer you'd like.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I tried to vote, however the link they had to the new policy was broken and the site was incredibly convoluted. The whole thing appeared to be designed to ensure people would not vote.
  • If the person incharge knew ANYTHING about statistics, a sample of over 600,000 votes is MORE than enough for an error rate of 0.1% And the difference between the two choices was far more than the error rate, there is no need for further sampling.
  • by Bieeanda (961632) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @12:45AM (#42269367)
    ...but the site consistently threw an error when I tried to vote 'no, fuck off' to the changes. I'm not going to say it was coded to do that (because come on) but I thought it was a funny sign.
  • I've never heard of any successful political system requiring more than 10-15% of its membership for quorum. (Even then, most of them are even less than that.) How do they justify 300,000,000+ accounts being the bare minimum response?
  • "as required by Facebook, at least 30 percent of the users should have voted against them in order to keep the previous versions of the policies"

    Well, they did. The rest are dogs, cats, frogs, imaginary animals, and the neighbor's boots.
    • Plus the various astroturf accounts that you can hire as your friends if you're a politician and try to appear popular despite nobody giving half a shit about you.

  • Less than 1% of FB users was dumb enough to hand them an email address they actually care about.

  • The ignorance of the masses speaketh again.
  • What email? I didn't know I had an option to vote till reading this today. Did I need to "Friend" Zuckerburg to get these notices? Maybe no one voted cause no one knew it was an option. “But the plans were on display ” “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.” “That’s the display department.” “With a flashlight.” “Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.” “So had the stairs.” “But look, you fou
  • So 668,872 people voted. What's the percentage of accounts created and abandoned by spam bots? If it's greater than 99%, maybe that's why less than 1% of "users" voted.
  • get people to vote the way you want then rig it so their vote don't count.

    Like isn't this standard practice of illusion?

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