back to article Facebook proposes killing off user voting on policy changes

Facebook is proposing to end its practice of allowing users to vote on corporate policy changes, after a three year experiment in digital democracy. The company introduced the voting system in 2009 to diffuse anger raised after it sought to change its terms and conditions to give itself a license to all data, photos, and other …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give the users choice..

    .. and they might want to protect their rights. Funny that.

    Personally, I hope that FB removes user voting rights, and that it results in a slow but persistent exit of users. But that's never going to happen, FB has rightly identified about 95% of computer users as sheep and regulators as "open for discussion" (if one takes the Irish Information Commissioner's pathetic and unwilling approach to "regulating" FB after a Godawful amount of prodding as an indication).

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Give the users choice..

      Second that! I wrote to the Irish regulator a few months ago informing them that the DOWNLOAD A COPY OF YOUR FACEBOOK DATA system excluded most of my email messages. I had already heard from other users on the community forums and got friends to check too, so I knew this bug wasn't isolated! The regulator responded with this :-

      ..........................'In relation to access to personal data, the agreed upon goal with this Office was that wherever possible the data in question should be available to the user without having to make a formal access request. Therefore personal data is available to individual members of FB-I through (i) their own account, (ii) their Activity Log which provides a detailed description and ability to interact and control all their actions on the site, (iii)the download tool which provides additional data which users are typically interested in and (iv) what is termed an expanded archive that provides more detailed information which many users are not seeking to access. FB-I has indicated that it has made the data available through various channels due, in part, to what it terms limitations in the platform infrastructure that underlies the operation of the download tools. FB-I is therefore NOT ABLE to make every piece of data available by means of the download tools. This includes certain messages from users but they will still be in the user's account. In terms of access to personal data, as long as the data is available to the user in their account, their Activity log, the download tool or the expanded archive we are satisfied that their right of access is met.'

      I find it hard not to snicker every time I see the FB-I moniker. Especially after The Onion’s article ‘The CIA’s Facebook program has dramatically reduced the agency’s costs’, which someone in Iran took seriously! It makes me crack up like someone saying ‘Bickus-Dickus’ in LOB! But hey, the regulator sees no irony here! So here’s what I wrote back to FB-I’s bitch :-

      ..........................'Enlighten me, how is it ok for Facebook to supply a subset of messages in the download without informing the user? Why even have this feature? Its very convenient for Facebook to say they are providing access to messages through their web-based user interface… Have you ever tried searching for a previously sent message, or tried retrieving old emails? A. There is ostensibly no email search tool. B. Its cumbersome beyond belief manually trawling through pages and pages of old emails waiting for Java-script code segments to execute! Its a sub-par messaging system, with no proper subject, message or date search built-in. Furthermore, there is no means to copy emails out of Facebook with any structure in place! None of this makes sense to me, unless FB-I’s real goal is to obfuscate their system to prevent users from switching their profile to a possible future competitor like Diaspora etc.'

      1. Peter H. Coffin

        Re: subset of message

        I have a suspicion that they simply cannot manage their data well enough to get a coherent and stable set of "everything" , that they have many many database servers, each if which have inconsistent copies, and the majority of the early problems with "not seeing everything" were completely technical problems, which have now been institutionalized and and the bandage fixes have been monetized and will therefore NEVER EVER get fixed.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    So they're seeking comments (which they may ignore)

    on a proposal to abolish a mechanism for seeking comments (which they may ignore), and replacing it with a mechanism that has questions addressed to a "privacy officer" (which he may ignore), and also renaming a misleadingly reassuringly-named thing in a differently misleading way.

    Actually it seems quite a good facsimile for democracy in the UK - carry on chaps!

  3. GrandpaChris

    I have looked at your FB diary

    and found your life to be a waste of time. "But Gabriel FB has allowed me to be open all my FB life. Please let me in. . . . . . ."

    The devil is in the details.

  4. Herbert Fruchtl
    Thumb Down

    Let me be the first to point out

    ...that I am not on Facebook, never have been, and don't intend to. But nevertheless keep reading every article about it.

    More seriously: I see the lure of a fairly ubiquitous network where you can share family pictures and exchange messages without having to keep track of people's changing email addresses, but every time I read about another of its childish and patronising ("couple page") or exploitative (advertising messages purporting to come from you, just because you "liked" a product) "features", I think: nah, I'm happier alone in the woods.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let me be the first to point out

      Lucky you. I had to join, because you cannot research privacy issues from the sidelines. I'm almost ready for phase 2: closing the account and send FB legal a formal warning that no information or images may be used after the account closure, and as all rights to my images belong to me FB is advised not to use them or face consequences. I put the latter in just to see what their official reply is - which I'll publish.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facebook adopts the Chinese model

    Population over a billion?

    The last thing you need is a democracy.

  6. rav

    Democratic business? LOL

    A business is a model of fascism. And so is Facebook.

    Just vote with your feet.

  7. Martin Huizing

    Funny thing...

    Friend of mine posted his family's farm picture on FB. Couple of days later he received a call from his dad.

    "Give me one good reason why you have a picture of our house for everyone to see?" he asked.

    My friend mulled over this question for the longest time before removing said pic.

    Now he has got a life!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Funny thing...

      I had friends being mad at me for having the temerity to object of them putting up a picture with me in it, and worse, TAGGING it. And they were mad at ME?

      I'm OK with social stuff, but my privacy is my privacy.

      1. turnip handler

        Re: Funny thing...

        "I had friends being mad at me for having the temerity to object of them putting up a picture with me in it, and worse, TAGGING it. And they were mad at ME?"

        It's their picture - not yours. If you didn't want them doing what the hell they like with the picture then you should object to them taking it! At least they did tag you so you could see it, what if they just posted around their neighbourhood as "Watch out for this dofus!" posters.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Funny thing...

      That is funny. Turns out my house is on Google Street View so no need to post additional pictures to show people what my house looks like...maybe your friend had given the house a nice re-model and didn't want their friends thinking they hadn't repainted the windows in the last three years.

      Not sure what your point is...sharing pictures with friends seems perfectly resaonable to me.

  8. John Armstrong-Millar

    actually resulted in a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality.. I think that they had the same problem in Ancient Greece?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wndering why there isn’t a simple FB alternative that utilizes existing email accounts?

    Waiting for Diaspora forever and wondering why there isn’t a simple FB alternative that utilizes existing email accounts? So a decentralized social network based on email alone. We could start by adding an extra folder for Public messages (Posts)…

    Let me just say first, I realize there are lots of limitations here. I’m making this case to illustrate that FB isn’t much better than email, and is sorely lacking for forum use. Especially when you consider that FB doesn’t even have a comprehensive message search facility.

    Private messages would be exactly the same as regular email. These type of messages get copied to private email accounts today anyway if FB notifications are turned on. So little change there! Public Messages or FB Posts would be email messages that are copied to everyone in a user’s contact list that has not been explicitly excluded by the user. On the receiving side, public messages would be filtered into a Public message folder i.e. organized under a ‘Public’ label in Gmail for instance. This filtering could be implemented using crude rules, such as prefixing the subject line or message body with a reserved Tag etc. The filtering could also be implemented using rules based on the number or type of recipients in the message header etc. Immediate limitations :-

    #1. How do you delete posts (Public Messages)?

    Not easily. The client or email hosting provider would need to recognise this as a special request and filter previously public messages thus deleting them permanently!

    #2. What about Likes?

    Likes usually have follow-up comments too, so is this feature that important? Especially when we know the Like system is riddled with fraud. How many people sell LIKED pages to 3rd parties for profit etc?! That said, the client or email hosting provider could send status emails to everyone in the contact list indicating a message had been read or include an actual like / hate button.

    #3. What about comments?

    These get treated as normal public messages but are sorted by subject in the Public folder so they act just like replied-to messages!

    #4. What about forums / discussion pages?

    This is one of my pet hates about FB. I’m forced to use these ‘documents’ as part of a course I’m doing. Using these Blog like layouts for discussions is horrendous versus conventional forums. Why? Because FB has no good search or filter options. So the order of the posts change depending on the most recently updated entry, and not the most important topic. If everyone on a course posts mundane one-liners, the page gets saturated with noise, and it becomes impossible to sort the gems from the bloat!

    #5. With FB you can add/delete friends, change email provider, change privacy?

    True, but that’s hardly sound logic for being used as a product. Different levels of privacy could be implemented by having multiple contact lists or groups. Contacts could then be edited and exported/imported to new platforms. Revised account / friend details could also be emailed to everyone in a particular list announcing any changes. Users would have to act on this though, so it would be unreliable without help from email providers!

    #6. What about apps and gaming?

    Tricky. I don’t care what my friends are looking at, what they are playing or what their score is. If its that important they’ll send follow-up messages anyway. But this is big business or at least it was for Mark Pincus whose fortunes are now evaporating. Personally, I found Zynga poker with its UI from 10 years ago rather tripe. Maybe I was expecting 3D PKR Poker avatars. In any event all these games can always be played outside FB, and still enjoyed with friends and family regardless.

    #7. How could you get people to change over?

    Not easy, but going back to the days of Altavista+Excite+AskJeeves versus Google. The cool people in the room switched to Google first. Then the sheep inquired: What’s that? Then they made the switch too, even at a time when Google really wasn’t that special. Of course serious trend setters would be needed to get a billion people off FB. But it could be done. Celebs and Film stars with a monetary interest in a GREENER alternative could sway the balance here I think.

    1. M Gale

      Re: Wndering why there isn’t a simple FB alternative that utilizes existing email accounts?

      There is a perfect alternative.

      It's called "email".

  10. banjomike

    a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality...

    But that is what Facebook (and Twitter, etc) is!

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