Facebook, democracy, and world domination

In the Facebook universe the big news is that after signing up half of the world’s population, the company is going for even more subscribers. The smaller story is that Facebook is poised to eliminate democracy (i.e.,voting)  among its users. As the LA times reports,

“ Facebook Inc. is finding out just how messy democracy can be. Three years ago it was praised for giving users a voice in major policy changes. Now the giant social network is proposing to end the practice of letting users vote. And that has stirred up a new wave of controversy. Julius Harper, a digital strategist from Valencia, Calif., said he is “hugely disappointed” that Facebook wants to take away his right to vote and accused Facebook of bowing to pressure from Wall Street.

“Most people on Facebook don’t even know they can vote or even that a vote is going on,” he said. “What is a democracy if you don’t know where the polling place is? Or that a vote is even being held? How can you participate? Ignorance becomes a tool that can be used to disenfranchise people.”

“Harper, 29, organized the grass-roots protest in 2009 in which tens of thousands of people noisily objected to controversial changes Facebook made to its terms of service that appeared to give Facebook permanent ownership of users’ status updates, photos and other contributions to the site.

“The public uproar spurred Facebook to begin letting users vote on major changes to how it handles their personal information. At the time, the idea was hailed as groundbreaking.

“But Harper said Facebook set an impossibly high bar by requiring that 30% of Facebook users participate for a vote to count. Facebook has held two votes and neither met that threshold. Now that Facebook has more than 1 billion users, some 300 million users would have to cast ballots.

“Harper said he would like to see Facebook explore alternatives. “The solution is not to get rid of the vote,” he said.

 

For more, see: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-facebook-vote-20121130,0,7873471.story

 

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