Jamie Butow

Tuesday, Nov 27 2012 09:02 AM

Jamie Butow: Facebook comments trigger vote to end voting. Huh?

By Jamie Butow

Ah, Facebook. What can we say? We love you, we use you, many can't live without you. But you continually drive us insane with your changes and privacy worries. And here we go again. Last week the behemoth social network announced that it was seeking comments on its proposal to take away users' right to vote on privacy policy changes.

Many of us received the email notification Wednesday night. Changes announced on the eve of a long weekend? Well played, Facebook. Well played.

Since the beginning, Facebook has had a policy that if 7,000 comments were received on a proposed change, a vote of active users would be required.

If 30 percent of active users voted, the results would be binding. If not, Facebook would consider the vote as advisory. With more than 1 billion active users, more than 300 million users will need to vote to make results binding.

This proposal had more than 12,000 comments Monday morning, many of which said nothing other than a variation of "I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional and amateur photos and videos, etc."

This means nothing legally.

And posting it as your status update? That also means nothing legally.

So there was very little substantial discussion on the proposal.

On a post on the Facebook Newsroom site (http://newsroom.fb.com/News/535/Proposed-Updates-to-our-Governing-Documents), Elliot Schrage, vice president of communications, public policy and marketing, writes, "We deeply value the feedback we receive from you during our comment period. In the past, your substantive feedback has led to changes to the proposals we made. However, we found that the voting mechanism, which is triggered by a specific number of comments, actually resulted in a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality. Therefore, we're proposing to end the voting component of the process in favor of a system that leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement."

OK, quality over quantity is a good thing. Is taking away users' right to vote the best way to ensure that?

Beats me.

I keep coming back to the point that this is a free social networking site. Free. As long as they are telling us how our information is used, I'll decide whether to keep using it or not. It is what it is, folks.

Bottom line: If you're really concerned about privacy, don't post anything online.

No word on when the vote will take place or how users will be notified.

Hopefully they have a better plan in place than posting it as their status update since, given recent changes to the news feed, it likely won't be seen by too many people unless they pay to promote it.

Wouldn't that be ironic?

#KCHolidays

Thank you to everyone who shared their Thanksgiving photos with us on Instagram.

Since this is just the beginning of the holiday season, post your photos with the #KCHolidays hashtag and show us what the holidays look like at your house.

Look for the photos on Bakersfield.com.

Ticket giveaway

Last week I saw an ad in the paper for the Brian Setzer Orchestra's Dec. 20 show at the Fox Theater. He's made quite a name for himself, and I was happy to see his Christmas Rocks Extravaganza is coming here.

On Monday, I got two pairs of tickets to give away to two lucky fans. This is one of those times I wish I didn't work here and could enter!

To enter, all you have to do is like The Bakersfield Californian and Bakotopia on Facebook, and fill out the short entry form.

Winners will be selected at random on Dec. 17 and notified via email.

Look for the show poster and link to the contest on Facebook, and good luck. Setzer always puts on a great show!

Jamie Butow is the community engagement coordinator for The Bakersfield.com Network. Email her at JButow@bakersfield.com. Follow her at Facebook.com/JamieButow2, and on Twitter @JamieButow.

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