Facebook hid policy vote, privacy group says

Democracy is great when everyone participates, but what do you do when the voters don’t show up?

Facebook opened up to users last week the ability to vote on its new data use policies, but, as it turns out, not so many people were interested in the changes.

232,632 users voted, representing a paltry .00038 percent of the total Facebook populace. That number isn’t even remotely close to the 270 million users needed to bind Facebook to the changes, Ars Technica reports

The policy changes affect how Facebook uses users’ information, including which data is collected and how long Facebook is allowed to hold onto it. Because of the low turnout, Facebook says that the vote will be used only in an advisory role.

Facebook opened the vote in response to user outcry spearheaded by Europe v. Facebook, a privacy activist group that’s put Facebook’s privacy policies in its crosshairs.

But according to the group, it’s not that users didn’t care about the vote — they simply didn’t know about it.

“Facebook is again fooling its users: First they give you that whole speech about user participation, and then they hide the polling station, just to be sure,” group speaker Max Schrems said in a statement.

“Zuckerberg seems to have taken democracy lessons in China,” Schrems quipped.

Facebook users seem to agree, with many commenting on the Facebook Site Governance page that they had no idea that the vote was going on. The accusations are pretty damming, and make it seem as if Facebook was only interested in giving users the impression that their votes made a difference.

Though the reality, in the end, may have been a combination of the two things: Facebook probably didn’t expect so many people to vote in the first place. And users — well, a lot of them probably didn’t care all that much anyway.

We’ve reached out to Facebook for comment on the accusations, and we’ll update when the company responds.