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Did You Really Think Facebook Was a Democracy?
Posted on December 13th 2012
Back when Facebook had a mere 200 million users, a vote would be triggered whenever a proposal from Facebook received over 7000 comments. If this happened, users were given a week to vote on the proposal and the vote would be binding if the voter turnout was over 30% of Facebook's entire user base.
The Delusion Of Control
Facebook was never a democracy, at least not where its users are concerned. It's a company, a business, and though they try to please their users, the only votes that count are likely coming straight from the boardroom. I think Our Social Times recently put it best:
"The current system offers users only the delusion of control. Perhaps they appreciate the opportunity to express their opinion even if votes are unlikely to be binding, but the new proposal also offers ways of doing just this. Firstly, the seven day comment period on proposed changes will continue. Facebook will also launch an “Ask the Chief Privacy Officer” feature and will hold regular live-streamed webcasts where users can ask questions."
What Does This Mean For You?
The new policy will allow Facebook to obtain data about you "from our affiliates or our advertising partners" (with whom you've already shared your personal info, such as websites, memberships, etc.), to "improve the quality of ads." Plenty of sites already do this, matching your info (which you've provided, technically of your own free will) to show you ads you're most likely to respond to, and to report to those ad partners how you responded.
Vote With Your Actions
This doesn't mean you can't affect policy at Facebook; you can. Consumers can always affect policy; they vote with their wallets, their time, their enthusiasm. If Facebook doesn't listen to their users, people may stop using it; if they do listen, they will continue to grow. I truly believe one person can make a difference, but it's up to you. Does this policy bother you enough to stop using Facebook, then go for it! If it doesn't bother you, then continue... Facebook has made its choice and you can make yours. It's the beauty of the free market.