Facebook Investors Aren't the Only Ones Whose Votes Don't Matter


It looks as if Facebook (NAS: FB) investors aren't the only ones whose votes fall on deaf ears.

You've probably heard by now that Mark Zuckerberg rules the social networker with an iron fist thanks to his supervoting Class B shares. With them, he wields nearly 56% of all voting power, and combined the holders of Class B shares control roughly 96% of all voting power.

They're not alone, as Facebookers themselves don't get much say, either, even though Facebook has a policy where major changes are put up to a vote among Facebook users. The company recently introduced some major changes to its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, or SRR, and its data use policy, allowing users to vote for or against them.

The changes include everything from how Facebook uses your personal data to target ads and sponsored stories at you to what happens to your information if you delete and deactivate your account.

If enough users voted against the changes, they wouldn't be implemented. However, there was a minimum requirement that at least 30% of all active registered users participate for the results to be binding. Considering Facebook's 901 million monthly active users, or MAUs, worldwide, that comes out to about 270 million votes required for it to stick; otherwise the results simply become "advisory."

Well, the results are in, and an overwhelming majority of voters preferred the status quo -- 87%, to be precise. The remaining 13% approved the new amended policy. The bad news? Fewer than 350,000 people cared enough to vote at all, or 0.038% of the total MAU base. That's about 29.962% short of the 30% bar that needed to be cleared.

Facebook can't honestly expect 30% participation in a vote that's loaded to the brim with legalese. The whole vote is clearly an elaborate way to save face and imbue users with a false sense of empowerment, as if they can influence the outcome. Google (NAS: GOOG) has gotten its fair share of privacy-policy gripes, but at least it doesn't delude you into thinking you can do anything about it.

Facebook users may as well join investors in the gloomy corner of helplessness when it comes to influencing the social juggernaut's ways.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorEvan Niuholds no position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Fool owns shares of Google and Facebook.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Google. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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