Such a high quorum makes it virtually impossible for a vote to pass muster, especially given that it is based on 30% of the total number of accounts; what proportion of Facebook names are fakes, duplicates, or defunct is totally unknown. What is clear is that every such account works in Facebook’s favour, stacking the odds against the voters and functionally increasing the fraction who must get involved. The quorum lets Facebook both have and eat its cake; it gets credit for community engagement while continuing to do precisely and solely what it wishes.
Without votes from the prerequisite 30% of total users, any results will be merely “advisory”, meaning that Facebook is under no obligation to obey them. While it’s certainly wise to put a high barrier between internet trolls and the policies of world-leading corporations, the 30% figure seems to have been chosen specifically so as to leave binding votes unattainable.
Whether or not the system is sound is mostly a moot question, however, as Facebook has announced that it plans to scrap the whole voting system, anyway. The company cited poor response quality as the main reason, blaming simple, 2-word posts for diluting the discourse and making the whole process unworkable. This seems like a genuine concern, given that the votes were far from a thorn in Facebook’s side, as they were.
The proposed changes are too numerous to list (full details available here), but one major focus has been on the sharing of personal information. Proposed changes would allow Facebook to ” share information [they] receive with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Facebook is part of, or that become part of that group (often these companies are called affiliates).” Technically, this includes the newly acquired Instagram service.
As of 3PM PST on Tuesday, the only 9% of participants, or about 10,000 people, have voted ratify the proposed changes to Facebook’s policies.