Facebook vote vote won’t save vote

The users of Facebook are overwhelmingly voting to save their right to vote on Facebook, but the vote almost certainly won’t count.

The admittedly confusing situation involves a little known Facebook rule that took effect in 2009 after the company sparked a storm of complaints when it appeared to claim greater rights over uploaded material.

Under the rule, Facebook must post a notice whenever it plans to make a significant change to its policies. If that notice attracts more than 7,000 “substantive” comments, the proposed change has to go to a vote of all users.

That rule has now come into effect with the latest proposed change: to drop the voting system itself. Facebook says it is because the current system incentives “the quantity of comments over their quality.” Instead it wants to gather feedback through webcasts with company officials who will address specific comments.

Though the company hasn’t indicated this, it’s possible that dropping the voting system might be related to Facebook now being a public company: shareholders may need to keep ultimate control over the company’s decisions, including changing policies.

At the time of writing, it appears those who’ve decided to vote are very much in favor of keeping at least a little power in the hands of Facebook users. The current total is 7,185 for adopting new rules (meaning dropping the voting system) and 73,584 for keeping the current system.

The problem is that there’s a catch: the current rules also state that a vote is only binding if at least 30 percent of Facebook users take part, otherwise it is simply treated as advisory. So far around 0.008% of users have voted and it’s a fairly safe bet that with the vote deadline coming at the end of this week, we won’t be seeing 300 million people having their say.