minions users are to vote on its privacy and data sharing policies for the first time since the firm went public earlier this year. The social media giant proposes eliminating the (by-and-large redundant) voting system that has been in place since 2009, which allows Facebookers to say Yea or Nay to the firm’s proposals, as Facebook feels the system is not in keeping with a publicly traded company.
Under current rules, if voters account for less than 30% of the social network’s users, then Facebook can do what it wants on the issue at stake, meaning that over 300 million people in over 100 countries need to register their like/dislike for an issue that they may not feel important enough to merit any action over. A lot of people. A lot of languages. A lot of world.
The main issue at stake is one of personal information. Mark Zuckerberg is hoping that he can combine data from his social network with that from his most high-profile acquisition, Instagram, which he picked up for $715 million earlier this year. Bundling personal information acquired from the photo-sharing site with Facebook will prove a most attractive proposition for advertisers, making it easier to monetize the firm.
This privacy issue, however, has a precedent. In May 2012, inspired by the Irish data commissioner’s report, 50,000 Facebookers campaigned for a user vote on the firm’s new privacy terms, which were all about the opt-out rather than a more user-friendly opt-in version. Under the firm’s own charter, if more than 7,000 users complain about an issue, then they can have a vote on it. But let’s then return to Facebook’s voting rules. Anything less than a 30% turnout means no dice, no matter what the result is.