Books written by Ray Sullivan

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Facebook Vote For the Apathy Party

I'm not an overly political person.  By that I mean I don't slavishly follow one political party or another.  I do have one golden rule when politics rears its invariably ugly head, though.  I don't debate politics with those who could vote but don't.  I also try to avoid debating with those who do vote, but will at least allow myself to be dragged into the debate, if a little reluctantly.

Over here in the UK voting appears to be a dying past-time, with many elections being poorly supported.  This can lead to extremists managing to vote their crazy candidates in. We recently held elections for the new Regional Police Commissioner posts over here in the UK - a role that I understand has been in place for some time in the US but is brand new to us.  To be fair, most of don't fully understand what the role requires and, listening to some of the candidates on TV, that included them.  The turn out was poor, even by jaded British standards at about 15% of the electorate.  I voted - for a guy I don't know who seemed the best bet from a mediocre list.  And he won.  See what I mean about extremists and their crazy candidates?

Now it seems we are going to be asked to vote for Facebook, or their policies at least.  Nobody told me that Facebook was a democracy!

Well, maybe it isn't.  For starters, it's a bit of an experiment.  If less than 30% of Facebook users respond then Facebook will do whatever it pleases - it will take the results under advisement.  But hang on - 30% of Facebook users equals about 300,000,000 people, I hope they're not relying on the Brits to vote, given our track record.

And the subject matter is a bit technical:  Amongst the small print the vote will be to allow FB to share data about you between its affiliates - most of us assumed they did anyway.  Also they are proposing that they can change who contacts you - I'm not fully read in on this one, but it sounds like a marketing ploy to me.  Perhaps most controversially FB wants to change who can view your timeline data after you've hidden it.  The clue should be in the phrase - 'after you've hidden it'.  It's your data, you should be allowed to change your mind.  You surely have the right to decide who cannot see it.

But the biggest vote is about voting - FB want to stop it and start using feedback to determine governance. So we didn't know we had a vote and as soon as we do it is to vote to lose the vote.  Is it just my head that's spinning?

Of course, unlike real votes, this is open to FB users which does appear to include rather a lot of younger persons who may not have ever voted on anything except reality TV before.  Unlike reality TV, the words used may be a bit more technical, so younger FB users might be a little challenged if they are to help keep the participation numbers up.

And what about the FB pages for cats, inanimate objects and pretend people?  If the cats, objects and make believe people don't vote then the 30% threshold gets harder to reach.  If they do vote, then the results could be distorted by users who just aren't real.  Even people like me will distort the stats - I have a personal FB page that I rarely use, an FB page linked to my writing and my evil alter ego, B L O'Feld has a Facebook page where he posts suitably evil messages for his 'Friends'.  All are welcome, by the way - it's Barry Liam O'Feld if you're searching in FB.

Anyway, we've all got until December 10th to vote, email should be dropping into your inbox any day now.  If you don't vote, don't pick a debate with me over Facebook policies next time we meet in the pub.  And if you do vote, well, you know what I drink, don't you?


I can be followed on Twitter too - @RayASullivan
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Why not take a look at my books and read up on my Biog here

Want to see what B L O'Feld is up to?  Take a look at his website here

Worried/Interested in the secretive world of DLFs?  Take a look at this website dedicated to DLFs here, if you dare!

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