Learning from Facebook: Twitter’s IPO

Since I plan on doing my Ignite presentation on Facebook’s IPO, its stocks trend since then, and relating this to how Twitter prepares for their IPO, and I have done a prior blog post on Facebook’s IPO, I want to take a close look at how twitter’s CFO and the rest of the company prepare for an eventual public offering.  These two companies are very much alike in that they are very popular social networking sites that attract millions.  Facebook is obviously much larger than Twitter, but Twitter is growing rapidly.  In fact, according to a CNN article, it was a Twitter user in Pakistan that broke the news first.  Examples like this show how big Twitter is and how it is becoming a social networking site that connects the world, much like how Facebook does.  Twitter will want to look at reasons why Facebook’s IPO failed and how they can plan for a more successful one.  Twitter’s goal is to go public by 2014, although the company’s CEO has said the IPO is “way out” in the future.  Fortunately for Twitter, the talk about them already is that their IPO will likely be extremely successful, for many reasons.  First, Twitter has seen enormous growth in recent years, and this trend is expected to not only continue, but increase by the time of their IPO, according to this same CNN article, (http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/10/22/twitters-ipo-not-facebooks-will-define-social/) .  “Twitter CEO Dick Costolo revealed that his company had hit 400 million tweets per day, up from 200 million just 11 months earlier. That growth has prompted financial gains, even as the company’s revenue model remains a work in progress. According to research firm eMarketer, Twitter’s revenue will likely hit $288.3 million this year, and then jump to $545.2 million in 2013. By the end of 2014, the figure will soar to $807.5 million.”    Another reason that it is expected they will have a successful IPO and just be a successful business in general is because they have “found a way to monetize mobile users. So-called sponsored Tweets — messages paid for by advertisers — are more easily present on tiny cell phones screens. By 2014, it could generate $444.1 million from smartphones and tablets, according to eMarketer.”  Facebook has not been able to make money from mobile users, which has certainly hurt their stock.  It is clear that Twitter seems to be a company that will have much more success when they go public, it is just not certain yet when this will actually happen.  However long it may take, the company will eventually go public.

Why Facebook’s Biggest Resource Will Be Its Downfall (Spoiler alert: It’s not mobile)

Ever since the beginning of this course, several faults with Facebook have been highlighted. Many believe, rightly so, that privacy is a joke on Facebook. Some fear when their posts get seen by a random stranger or when they are “friended” by one. Others feel that Facebook makes it impossible to let bygones be bygones, and what goes up there stay forever. Others are simply stressed out by the amount of friends they have. This stems from a common theme: there are just way too many people on Facebook! What many consider to be Facebook’s greatest resource, its multitude of users, may prove to be its downfall.

Facebook having so many users is exactly why privacy is such a big issue on Facebook. Recently, Facebook has hit the billionth mark on number of active users. That is absolutely incredible, but it also means that it is that much harder for Facebook to regulate privacy. Imagine if you post a status update and set it to “Friends only.” Then, a friend came along and shared your status…publicly. Suddenly, the number of audience of your status jumped from the few hundred friends you have to all billion people using Facebook. Now supposed you want to take that status down, and you did. Sadly enough, that does not affect the status shared by your friend. This kind of effect is why many worry that Facebook makes it impossible to forget.

Suddenly, Facebook is not so appealing anymore. From being a safe heaven for college students, Facebook is now virtually open to everyone, and we have to live with that. This shift has not gone unnoticed, too. One of my favorite TV shows, How I Met Your Mother, had an episode a while ago with the following dialogues:

 

“Nobody goes on Facebook anymore.”

“You know who is on Facebook? Everybody’s parents!”

 

This brings me to my second point, which is the lost of exclusivity. One of the reasons that made Facebook so successful in the early days was the fact that it was exclusive, first to a few universities and then to university students. It is a paradox of the human mind: we all want something good, but once everyone else has the same thing, the object loses its appeal. Facebook, as of now, has virtually no cool factor left. Additionally, Facebook used to be a safe space, especially for teenagers. How would they feel now that the rest of the world is on Facebook, too?

All of these factors lead to Facebook’s competitors getting an advantage, as they, by definition, do not have as many users as Facebook. For instance, Twitter might be an appealing alternative for teenagers looking to escape their parents. Or, Google+ could be a safer place for people who want to share yet want to be left alone.

If Facebook wants to avoid such a thing from happening, it needs to find a way to handle its large profiles of users. For instance, Google+ is built from the ground up to be based on groups of friends. That way, even if Google+ one day has billions of users, nobody would feel overwhelmed as they are still interacting with just a select group of users. Facebook tried to implement a similar feature, but to a much less prominence. After all, doing so would go against Facebook’s own principle, for it wants us to have as many friends as we can. However, Facebook needs to find a sweet spot, otherwise its users may start flocking over to other social networks.

Are We Being Unnecessarily Harsh on the Facebook Copyright Meme?

For the past few days, a “meme” has been spreading around Facebook where people declare the information on their profiles as their rightful property. Because Facebook recently changed their guidelines regarding user privacy, Facebook members decided to take it upon themselves to declare a “copyright” on personal information shared online.

“In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, music, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berne Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.”

When this popped up on my News Feed, I’ll admit I was skeptical – how would a simple post on your profile prevent Facebook from doing what it wants with your information? I found it ironic that people share their information with all of their friends via the Facebook platform, but take offense when Facebook has access to that data. As it turns out, posting this doesn’t do anything as there was not a change of policy to begin with, as Facebook pointed out in a recent response to the widespread meme:

There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.

-http://newsroom.fb.com/Fact-Check

But, as Professor Ed Felten points out in his blog post titled “Facebook Copyright Statement not Entirely Silly,” the users have reason in reposting the meme. How naïve is it to believe that Facebook would change their policies without the general public knowing? After all, their terms of use don’t contain the most heartening words – “Your continued use of Facebook following changes to our terms constitutes your acceptance of our amended terms.” I’ll admit that when I first saw the post going around, I became a bit worried for my own security and re-posted the status (albeit with the privacy settings set to “Only Me”).

So why are the posters getting so much flack from their friends? I, for one, have seen many a friend get comment-blasted with phrases such as “legal naivety” and “meaningless jargon” along with the more cruel ones such as “you don’t know what the –censored- you’re talking about.” Indeed, the popular comedy site Collegehumor made a video entitled “Facebook Law for Idiots” (which you can see here: http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6851490/facebook-law-for-idiots) which bashes people for their uninformed use of legal terms. However, what’s wrong with overprotecting yourself? It’s already been established that Facebook users are justified in being concerned about their information security – you’re using a site that won’t even tell you when they change their policies.

I found it interesting that the Facebook reply didn’t address the enforceability of the post. I noticed this the first time that I read it, and my suspicions were confirmed when I read Professor Felton’s post. Given the hypothetical scenario that Facebook did change their policies, what on earth could the users do to counteract it? Continued use of the site is a tacit agreement of the terms of use, but then personal information is unprotected. Thus, a user may reason, if Facebook can tell me that words on a webpage constitute a binding agreement, then why wouldn’t I think the same of my posts?

I would like to end this post with the following hypothetical: say I posted something on my wall. Then, a friend copied the post and made it his own status. Who do those words belong to? We’re using Facebook’s servers to host our personal information, but a third party can sweep in and do with the data what they will. Honestly, I don’t think that there really can be such thing as “owning one’s personal information” on such an open area such as the Internet. What belongs to whom becomes a confusing subject when access to information becomes easier by the day.

A View from an Uninformed User

In regards to the new facebook hoax status:

“In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.”

I decided to interview one of my friends who recently posted this on her newsfeed. I wanted to get her perspective of why she posted and how she felt after she knew it was totally false. In order to preserve her identity, I simply refer to her as a friend.

Q: You just recently posted on facebook about the company changing the terms and services, what made you post this?

A: “I posted that status just to be careful, in case I really needed to copyright or whatever it is that the terms said.”

Q: Did you read your post before posting it on facebook?

A: “I read half of it then posted it.”

Q: Did you think to go to facebook and look at the terms and service yourself?

A: “Nope. I really had no desire to do so.”

Q: Now, that you know this is false, what would you have done differently before you posted?

A: “I probably would have read it or checked the terms.”

Q: Have you ever read the facebook terms and services?

A: “Never. I don’t care too.”

Q: If not, then why did you have the desire to post in regards to a change in terms and services?

A: “Just in case they would delete my page or something.”

Q: If facebook did change the terms and services why would you think your posts would protect your account from any of the changes?

A: “I really just copied what everyone else was doing.”

Q: Would you remain a facebook user if facebook changed the terms and services?

A: “I would probably remain a user. Facebook is too much a part of my life now.”

Q: What’s primary reason for being a facebook user?

A: “I use facebook just to interact and keep in touch with friends/family.”

Q: What do you like most about facebook’s features?

A: “I like having the ability to talk to friends all over the country.”

Q: What do you dislike the most about facebook’s features?

A: “The lack of privacy and trouble it causes.”

I feel as if this interview reveals why the “hoax” made it to everyone’s newsfeed. It’s the facebook users, like my friend, who are concerned, yet not concerned enough to research the problem that intensified the situation. If she simply went to the facebook terms link or searched in google she would have saved herself the embarrassment of the ignorant post. I find it interesting that she was very worried that “I posted that status just to be careful in case I really needed to copyright or whatever”, however she has “never” looked at the terms and has “no desire to”. In addition, at the end she mentioned the privacy issues regarding facebook. Maybe if she read through the terms and privacy regulations there would no longer be issues.

The Art of the Profile Picture

Consider the profile picture. Its ubiquitous. I bet all of your friends have a profile picture, whether it’s a picture of them smiling, an awkward selfie, or a Pokemon character. In Facebook’s words, “Your profile picture is the picture that friends see next to your name everywhere on Facebook. This is how people recognize you.”

But as you all know, the profile picture is hardly a standard head shot used for recognition alone. It comes in many variations. Let’s go over a few novelty ones:

The Selfie: This is a photo in which it is evident that the subject of the photo is standing next to a mirror and holding a camera up to take a picture of themselves. They are typically alone, as the name suggests, and thus there is a certain implication that comes along with this type of profile picture. As Urban Dictionary puts it, “You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them.” Although this description is extreme, there is a definite implication that when a person spends their time in front of a mirror taking pictures alone, perhaps their social life is less than fulfilling.

The Couple Shot: It is a standard move for a couple to formalize their relationship via cyberspace with a photo of the two of them looking adorable and/or couply. Typical variations include holding hands, arms around each other, and the classic prom shot. Although there are exceptions, when someone has a picture with them alone touching a member of the opposite sex, its generally a declaration that the two are dating. Standard protocol is for many friends to like the picture and make various comments about how cute the photo is. When i investigated this phenomenon on Urban Dictionary, I discovered a term I had never encountered: “Cupload – An uploaded picture of a couple on Facebook.”

The Pokemon Character: There is reportedly an event along the lines of “Change Your Profile Picture to Your Favorite Pokemon!” that resurfaces from time to time and explains the fact that some of your friends may have spent some time with Pikachu as their primary photo. Still. There is often an unfavorable perception associated with this move. When one of my friend’s received her future college roommate’s name this summer, we immediately logged on Facebook to investigate. When we saw that her profile picture consisted of a cartoon character, a consensus was swiftly reached: “Okay, so she’s weird,” one of my friend’s succinctly declared.

As the variations of profile pictures demonstrate, Facebook, like any other institution, has a set of certain standards and norms governing its use. The way members use Facebook affects the way that they are received by the community at large.

 

Sources:

https://www.facebook.com/help/388305657884730/

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=selfie

http://uaddit.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=7457

Facebook Activity – Emotional Effects

As Facebook creeps into every part of our lives, it is important to take a step back and consider what is on our personal pages, and the positive and negative emotional effects of this complete immersion into a social media culture.

If you do not worry about information posted by yourself or others potentially coming back to haunt you later, you are in the minority. Whether it be pictures from what is referred to as the “red solo cup days,” embarrassing photos in your room with friends, or wall posts from your now ex-boyfriend, information posted on your Facebook may not be data you want available to certain people now or in the future.  Recent studies show that this phenomenon has actually turned into a sizeable amount of stress for many Facebook users.

Ben Marder, a marketing fellow who did research on the subject, says, “Facebook used to be like a great party where you can dance, drink and flirt.  But now with your Mum, Dad and boss there the party becomes an anxious event full of potential social landmines.”  This added element of anxiety seems to correlate with number of Facebook friends – the more friends, the more stress that an activity or post will not sit well with a certain viewer.  Unsurprisingly, parents, relatives, and colleagues/bosses cause the greatest anxiety increase.

With so much stress arising from posts and friends, why do people bother?  Why post any pictures if you have to constantly worry about what is appropriate? Why accept the friend requests of people from work?  Well, it turns out Facebook can foster positive emotions as well.  It reportedly is helping change the workplace by humanizing those who use it.  Anxious your boss will see that photo of your two kids in precious Halloween costumes because you left work a couple hours early that day? Stressed your employees will see pictures of you with margaritas? If you can let that stress go, studies have shown Facebook can actually improve office relationships by slowly introducing parts of personal lives that may have been hidden.

Overall, while stress is never a welcomed sentiment, a healthy amount of anxiety can make sure your Facebook activity stays in check.  If you aren’t worried about that Facebook video of vandalizing the school, you may have an arrest coming your way.  However, general day to day actions should not be fretted about and can help make yourself seem more human and real to those surrounding you.

Don’t Undo, just Don’t Do

We all wish we could forget certain things or undo certain actions of the past. While technology has created a world in which it has never been so easy to undo actions, it has also created the conditions whereby forgetting that the actions occurred in the first place is far more difficult (just consider Facebook’s Timeline). Let’s say Joe wants to clean up his Facebook before he applies for a job. He would probably go through his entire Timeline and ask himself whether each post is worthy of remaining published for his Facebook friends (and the world, by extension) to see. Now flip the coin: let’s say I’m the job interviewer and I want to check whether my applicant’s Facebook profile is clean. It would be much easier for me to merely look through all the posts, pictures, etc., just looking for something incriminating.

My point is not that companies want to do this, or that they even have the ability to do this (although even technological privacy settings cannot prohibit peer-to-peer violations). The point is that in general, when confronted with a large amount of relatively unsorted information, it is far easier to search for items related to a specific issue rather than for items in general which violate a certain norm (with regard to my personal Facebook privacy, for example, the norm might be that posts should not be harmful to my identity, future job prospects, relationships, etc.). For example, it would take far less time and effort to go through one’s Timeline looking for posts which are related to, say, sports, rather than going through, evaluating each post one-at-a-time for its favorability to one’s “Facebook image.” The reason is possibly that the decision for the former scenario occurs at an easier level: sorting by issue is a less intensive task than sorting by favorability. Perhaps it is also the case that sorting by issue is more easily automated by computers and search, whereas sorting by favorability requires a more human decision which is not so easily computed.

This notion translates well into the real world, where the commonly expressed fears of investigators — perhaps related to a job application, political campaign, or FBI investigation — digging through one’s online activity from the distant past in search of additional information or evidence. But as a society we must realize that there is asymmetry with regard to the unrealistic time and effort regular people would have to expend in order to sift through the increasingly unmanageable swaths of information on the Internet in order to polish and cull information unfavorable to their interest, versus the time and effort investigators would need to expend in order to seek information relevant to a specific issue. The result is a perverse calculation of incentives: should I incur the costs of maintaining and clearing up all of my online interactions from the past, or should I, from the get-go, just self-censor my behavior so as to ensure no potential blowback in the future? If forgetting and anonymity continue their trend of becoming increasingly difficult to achieve, then more and more people will opt for the latter course of action: to live in a low-risk, low-freedom, virtual Panopticon of self-censorship.

Why we need to delete

After today’s discussion about the web not allowing us to forget anything, I realized that not only is the web making us lazier but we need to be more proactive and start deleting. With our growing use of the internet and sites like Facebook and Twitter, our online presence has stopped being separate from our real life. Instead, our internet profiles are merely an extension of our real lives. Think about it, when was the last time you went out with your friends and didn’t upload a photo of what you were doing?

Unlike life, when you upload a picture or make a post on Facebook it does not just fade into nonexistence. No, it can resurface at anytime in the same condition it was preserved in. This is not necessarily a good thing because the internet is not similar to keeping memories. Memories are self-selecting. We have good ones and bad ones, some of them are clear and other are hazy. The best part of memories is that we can share them with people and laugh about the fuzzy details. This can not be replicated with the internet. The internet does not forget, it is unforgiving and unbiased in what it chooses to store.

This is why I delete. Not because I need to (because in this generation, nothing ever needs to be deleted) but because there is a satisfaction and weird sense of control of your own life and information that comes with it. Not to sound dramatic but today, it is so easy to lose track of your information and not really know where it is going. The sense of security and privacy that came with a life unconnected is gone. Instead, we have entered into agreements we don’t really understand with companies about how our information is to be handled.

I’m not saying that if people start deleting there will be a sudden change and that information privacy will cease to be an issue. Instead, I think it will help us all depend a little less on the internet to hold our memories and shape our identities. For example, this article in the NYTimes magazine highlights how companies such as Target use our online presence to predict what our online shopping habits will be.

For me, what I gain from maintaining a little anonymity on the web is much greater than the convenience of being connected.

Do children need Facebook?

It’s not uncommon for someone under 13 to have a Facebook account today despite the restriction implemented in the “Terms of Service (ToS)” of Facebook. In fact, even Mark Zuckerberg himself acknowledged that children under 13 should have a chance to use Facebook to interact with their friends. So the restriction on the ToS exists only in name, with little efficacy. Instead of talking about the appropriateness or usefulness of the ban, I want to look at this issue from another angle – do people at a young age (before 13, probably) really need Facebook/Twitter/social networking sites?

When I was 13, I had neither Facebook nor Twitter account. True, both of the sites had not been founded at that time. But even if they had, I doubt whether I would use them. I met most of my friends on a daily basis (either in school or in my neighborhood) and my social life was full of fun and excitement even without the online interactions. However, with the advancements in entertainment technology online, people from a young age start to develop the habit of socializing in a virtual platform instead of in a face-to-face method.

That trend is worrisome for two reasons: First, as children put more and more emphasis online, they lose the opportunity to socially interact in a real and face-to-face setting (some people argue that online interaction complements daily socialization and helps children build strong, intimate friendship. I do not disagree with that conclusion but need to point out that such strong relationship exists mainly online with only a small real life component; the capability to communicate with someone face-to-face could not be simply developed by Facebook chats and posts). The gradual loss of effective communication skills in real life (including the use of appropriate gestures, facial expressions, tones etc. which Facebook socialization hardly requires) could negatively influence the child’s future course of life in college or at work. Second, the amount of information on Facebook and similar sites is just so huge that a child could be inundated. Since parents could not effectively monitor children’s Facebook usage (parents do not have so much time to sit by the side of their child every time they log into Facebook), it is highly possible that children could receive misleading information online. And since they are not equipped with the skills to distinguish the validity of such information, children are highly prone to such false information which could instill wrong ideas in their minds. Ideas formed at a young age are especially hard to uproot, thus the effect of such misleading information online could be detrimental.

I am not saying that letting young children use Facebook causes only harm but no benefit. The benefits and convenience of social networking sites are clear to see and need no further elaboration; however, the dark side, especially the harm on young children, is less obvious and is what needs to be brought to the spotlight.

I would also like to point out that the reason for many children under 13 to join Facebook or Twitter is not actually the content of the websites themselves but the influence of peer pressure. More interestingly, such peer pressure is a ‘circular’ rather than a ‘straight-line’ influence: when person A starts to use Facebook, he might influence his good friend B to register an account as well; B then influences C and C influences D. And the fact that B, C and D (who could be good friends of A as well) are now on Facebook further convinces A to stick to the website even though he might find the site less appealing than he thought. Such circular pressure makes the task of protecting children from harmful materials on Facebook very tough since they are reluctant to quit Facebook (and therefore sacrifice their friendship forged online) but at the same time they face the threat of misleading information on Facebook without appropriate filters.

Given the negative impacts of using Facebook and the difficulties in eliminating such impacts, I was actually glad that I started using Facebook and Twitter only at the age of 16 when I had some concepts (though basic) about right and wrong and could make sensible decisions about what to believe online.

Indeed, children nowadays can have thousands of ways to interact with their friends on Facebook, many of those I could never have imagined when I was 13. But I still miss the time when I went to the backyard of my friend’s house and played hide-and-seek from early afternoon until dusk. And I believe children today deserve more of those opportunities as well, instead of sitting in front of a computer screen and checking their friends’ status on FarmVille.

Facebook and Democracy

As Amanda noted in her post, “Don’t Be Fooled,” thousands of Facebook users have been copy-and-pasting a viral message that supposedly protects one against Facebook’s new privacy guidelines.

Six of my friends have re-posted the message. Out of the thirty collective comments on their posts at the time of writing, four (13%) were along the lines of “I’m posting this just in case” or “better safe than sorry,” eleven (37%) effectively said “this post does nothing to protect you,” and fourteen (47%) were of an unrelated nature. Just one comment (3%) mentioned the Facebook Site Governance change that spurred the viral posts in the first place, stating “you can vote to stop it” — which isn’t completely accurate, anyway. The six posts collectively had twelve likes.

Snopes, as expected, has debunked the viral post in its entirety. Of note is the remark that Facebook users cannot, under any circumstance, unilaterally alter the contract they entered with the site when creating an account. Even if the viral post contained legally correct language, it does no more to protect users’ media and content than current copyright law already does. And it is far from legally relevant, misquoting the Berne Convention and inappropriately referencing the Uniform Commercial Code Section 1-308.

Facebook has done little to dispel the myth that they are making a change regarding ownership of users’ information. On their page, “Facebook and Privacy” (which has barely a million “likes”), the site attempted to debunk the viral message with a post of its own. At the time of writing, it has 330 likes and 466 shares… a paltry amount for the social networking giant. The post was duplicated at the little-known “Fact Check” section of Facebook’s Newsroom. At a time when misinformation has been circulating rampantly, and users’ opinions of the site are decidedly suspicious (if uninformed), I am dismayed to see general inaction on Facebook’s part.

To be fair, though, if I was Mark Zuckerberg, I wouldn’t want to publicize the actual changes pending for Facebook’s governing documents. Among a couple modifications up in the air is the removal of users’ ability to vote on changes. Under the current rules, a major change will have a one-week commenting period. If 7000 comments are posted, and a vote on the changes draws over 30% of Facebook’s users, the vote will be binding. In recent experience, the 7000-comment threshold has been too easy to meet, and the 30% threshold has been far too difficult (and was unrealistic from the start, requiring 270 million votes in one case). Facebook wants to replace this system with one that is dubiously effective, favoring high-quality, personal feedback over quantity of comments and votes. The commenting period on this change is open, and, as expected, the 7000-comment threshold has already been met. A vote will take place, and barring the participation of a whopping 30% of the site’s users, Facebook will have its way and voting will be abolished.

Don’t be fooled. Facebook isn’t a democracy now, and it won’t be after the change. Not only has Zuckerberg limited the influence of investors by reserving 96.3% of voting power to the Class B shares he and other insiders own, but he has failed to actively solicit the opinions of users in regards to general site developments. The prominent, site-wide surveys that are often a welcome nuisance elsewhere don’t exist on Facebook. Many websites constantly press users for feedback, but the largest social network has barely solicited me for input. At the very least, as TechCrunch suggests, voting should remain an emergency option, perhaps using a smaller, specially trained “deliberative panel.” Overall, Facebook needs to acknowledge the opinions of its users in the future and demonstrate that it responds to large-scale user input.

UPDATE (11/27): check out Prof. Ed Felten’s CITP blog post regarding the viral copyright statement.