Facebook is claiming a victory in a vote to decide on changes to its terms and conditions, even though only 0.03 per cent of users voted on changes.
A big row broke out in February when Facebook tried to change its terms and conditions to give the company licenses over all content posted on the site for ever. Outrage from users meant the conditions were changed back.
The company then wrote two sets of T&Cs and said it would accept the users' decision as final. Or at least it would if at least 30 per cent of active users voted. With 200m users this would require 60m votes in favour. Given minimal publicity this seemed unlikely to happen.
Simon Davies of Privacy International promised to eat his shorts if that target was reached, but the world has now been spared from such a spectacle.
Jonathan Anderson, a researcher at Cambridge University, said: "It's their assumption of the language of democracy that I really object to. People had the choice between terms written by Facebook... or terms written by Facebook. It has successfully defused criticism by using no more than words. It is very disappointing that so much of the mainstream and technology press seem to have just swallowed this whole and parroted Facebook's claims."
Anderson is currently working on the useability of privacy controls and is writing a paper proposing a new architecture for social networking sites with privacy controls. He said he would really have liked to see Facebook assume real responsibility for its users' data and do more to protect them from dodgy applications. ®