Voting closes on Facebook policy changes, only 299 million votes short

Posted on: 5:32 am, December 11, 2012, by , updated on: 08:27pm, December 11, 2012

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(CNN) — Facebook’s flirtation with democracy has come to an end. If it wants to, the social network can now change its policies without user approval.

A weeklong open vote on proposed policy changes, including whether to keep public voting and how data is shared with affiliates such as Instagram, closed Monday. If Facebook goes ahead with its plans, this will be the last such public vote.

For the results to be binding, more than 30% of Facebook users had to participate in the vote, which was hosted on the site by a third-party app developer. Facebook says it has more than a billion active users, so that meant at least 300 million members would have needed to vote.

But only .2% of that amount went to the virtual polls. In his blog post announcing the vote last week, Facebook vice president of communications Elliot Schrage said, “If turnout is less than 30%, the vote will be advisory.”

Even with a sliver of the required votes, it’s clear what Facebook users who voted are advising Facebook to do. Of the 668,752 members who did participate, 88% voted to stick with the existing policies.

The two documents Facebook wishes to update are its data use policy and its statement of rights and responsibilities. The changes under consideration include updating the language of privacy controls to better explain what it means to hide content from your timeline.

Another update would change how Facebook shares user data with companies it owns or partners with, most notably Instagram. The social network also wants to drop the voting system, which it established in 2009 as a response to privacy concerns.

“We will be announcing the results and the next steps regarding the governance process shortly, so check back soon,” read a post Monday on the official Facebook Site Governance page.

Now a third-party auditor will verify the tallies. But unless 299 million virtual votes were somehow misplaced, the results are clear.

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