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Facebook can now change policies without user approval after low voter turnout

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Voting on Facebook's latest policy changes has ended, with voters overwhelmingly asking it to keep the old version of its governing documents, but participation may not have been high enough to make a difference. According to Facebook's governance page, around 670,000 users voted, with roughly 88 percent rejecting the new changes. Unfortunately for them, that total number is far short of the 30 percent of the site's billion active users, so the vote will be advisory rather than binding, meaning Facebook is free to make changes as it sees fit. On a broad scale, these numbers are very similar to what we saw last time — when a relatively tiny number of voters came out overwhelmingly against changes — although turnout was doubled this time.

The proposed changes will allow user data to be shared between Facebook-owned services, primarily Instagram, and will remove controls over who can message users, though they'll be given filtering mechanisms instead. Most dramatically, it will also do away with the veto system, in which a vote is currently triggered after 7,000 comments and is binding if 30 percent of users vote on it. This vote may have just proved the irrelevance of that particular change: as before, it doesn't seem most users really care.