Facebook’s first vote on revisions to its new governing documents has begun. So far, in early voting, the newly proposed (and revised) Statement of Rights and Responisbilities and Facebook Principles documents are leading the current Terms of Service 71-29%, with just over 5,000 votes so far.
Why the vote? Last month, after reverting previous changes to its Terms of Service in response to user and press complaints about data ownership rules, Facebook announced a new process for making updates to the site’s Terms of Service that includes a user comment period on any proposed changes. If enough users comment on the proposed changes, Facebook will hold a user vote:
- If 30% of all active users (defined as users who have logged in once in the last 30 days) vote, the results will be considered “binding.”
- If less than 30% of all active users vote, the results will be considered “advisory” (i.e. non-binding).
- Voting will be done through the Site Governance Vote application developed by Wildfire, and Ernst & Young will “audit the vote tabulation… to ensure the votes are accurate.”
As we’ve said before, Facebook has clearly set the threshold for binding user votes extremely high – assuming 200 million users have logged in during the last month, that means over 60 million users would need to vote on the changes to the new terms for them to be considered binding. The probability of that happening appears low. Thus, the results of this vote will likely be considered “advisory.”
Nevertheless, the industry will be looking on to see how Facebook incorporates the feedback it gains through this process into its plans. After reverting its TOS, Facebook solicited input from privacy advocates and concerned users in making revisions to the newly proposed governing documents. If the new documents win out, they’ll likely be adopted soon. If not, things may get a little more “complicated.”