That’s because among the proposed changes to what Facebook refers to as its “governing documents,” which include its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (terms of service) and its Data Use Policy, is one that would do away with such future voting opportunities on website-wide changes.
Facebook gave users one week to vote on the changes here beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern on Monday. Voting ends at 3 p.m. Monday, December 10, 2012.
The outcome of the vote is only binding for Facebook if more than 30 percent of the social network’s active users participate, or 303 million out of 1.01 billion people. As of Monday evening only 2,438 users had cast their vote, the vast majority — some 2,044 — against Facebook’s proposed updates, and in favor of the current documents (screenshot below).
To put that in context, Facebook itself counts over 4,300 employees.
That miniscule level of participation is not without precedent. The last time Facebook held a major vote about changing its governing documents, in June, just 0.038 percent of users took part, as Ars Technica reported.
Still, it remains to be seen whether or not the potential of the last ever-voting opportunity galvanizes more Facebook users to cast their virtual votes this time around.
Facebook says it has outgrown the voting mechanism, but if users vote it abolish it, the company says it will still seek user input and feedback on new policies. Instead of a vote, the world’s largest social networking company wants to give users “seven (7) days notice” and “an opportunity to comment on changes.”
In initially proposing the latest round of changes in late November, Facebook’s Eliot Schrage, VP of communications for public policy and marketing, said that instead of voting, the company would also provide email notifications of new changes to users and would host Q-and-A events on the website with Facebook’s privacy officer.
As the company explained in a blog post further elaborating on its Facebook Site Governance page on Monday:
“To be clear, our goal in modifying our site governance process is to make sure that we receive feedback from you in the best, most productive way possible so that we can be responsive to your input. Many of you provided us with ideas on how we could continue to meet that goal. You pointed out that our decision to update the process gives us an opportunity to innovate and search for new and better ways to enhance participation. “
Among the other new changes Facebook proposed include: explicitly allowing owners of Facebook Pages to use them for their own commercial purposes (read: selling, advertising and other promotional uses), the ability to register for a new Facebook account with a phone number, explicitly stating that hiding one’s posts from his or her Timeline doesn’t hide it from appearing on other parts of Facebook, that other users can share public parts of a user’s personal information profile. Also, there’s this clause in the new Data Use Policy (page 15) that outlines the fact that Facebook can now share data between it and its newly acquired subsidiary Instagram, presumably for purposes including advertising:
“We may share information we receive with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Facebook is part of, or that become part of that group (often these companies are called affiliates). Likewise, our affiliates may share information with us as well. This sharing is done in compliance with applicable laws including where such applicable laws require consent. We and our affiliates may use shared information to help provide, understand, and improve our services and their own services.”
Correction: This article originally stated Facebook was giving users “one day,” or 24 hours, to vote on the changes, when it fact, it was one week. We have since corrected the error and regret it.