Senate approves immigration bill with increased H-1B visas

In a rare bipartisan effort, the U.S. Senate approved the immigration bill with a 68-32 vote on Thursday. This means the lobbying efforts put forth by Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and other major tech companies most likely made a difference.

The 1,200-page measure, dubbed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, which ultimately won the Senate's approval, calls for boosting security on the U.S.-Mexico border, helping immigrants that are currently in the U.S. illegally, and increasing H-1B visas to foreign workers.

It's the bit about H-1B visas that the tech companies were … Read more

Internet sales tax, here we come?

The days of shopping online and being able to duck sales taxes may soon come to an end. The U.S. Senate is slated to vote on the Internet sales tax sometime next week, according to Reuters.

Internet tax supporters, with backing from Walmart, Macy's, and Best Buy, are hoping a Senate vote will give them enough political leverage to require Americans to pay sales tax whenever buying goods online. This could usher in the first national Internet sales tax ever.

According to Reuters, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a motion on Thursday supporting the proposal. Since Reid … Read more

Facebook: No more voting, but we're still listening

It's official. The independent auditor Facebook hired to double-check its latest vote has confirmed the vote count, and Facebook's new user polices go into effect today.

In addition to adding language that lets Facebook share your data with affiliates, like Instagram, and providing clarification on how it uses your data for advertising, the new policy also does away with the voting practice entirely.

While it's all over for voting, Facebook said it still wants to hear from users.

"We hope you'll stay vocal and involved," Elliot Schrage, Facebook's VP of communications, said in … Read more

The polls close at Facebook for the last time

Facebook closed its polls shortly after noon PT today, marking the end of its voting system with little fanfare.

"The Facebook Site Governance vote is now closed," reads a status update on Facebook's site governance page. "Thank you for your participation. We will be announcing the results and the next steps regarding the governance process shortly, so check back soon."

While Facebook hasn't officially called it yet, a look at the Facebook app tallying votes shows that only 589,141 votes were cast. Facebook said it needed 300 million votes to make the users' … Read more

Dismal voter turnout may doom Facebook's quasi-democracy

Update, 12:10 p.m. PT: Well, it's past noon PT. Facebook hasn't officially called it yet, but a look at the Facebook app tallying votes, show only 588,923 votes cast. That's not nearly enough to make the decision of users stick.

So much for a quasi-democratic Facebook. So far, the social network's users haven't cast anywhere near enough votes to preserve users' ability to veto Facebook's policy changes.

Facebook users have until noon today to vote on Facebook's recently proposed policy changes relating to data use and privacy. Unless at least … Read more

Future of Facebook voting up for vote

Tuesday's CNET Update doubts the vote will be rocked:

Facebook doesn't want policy changes to be put up for a vote anymore. But first, it's letting users have one last chance to make their voice heard on the matter. Facebook lets users vote on policy changes, but the votes only count if 30 percent of all active users participate. Problem is, there has never been enough voter turnout for it to matter. So Facebook now is proposing to end the voting option and also make changes to messages. Users can vote on the Facebook Site Governance app, … Read more

Privacy watchdogs aren't happy about Facebook's site changes

Facebook has incurred the wrath of privacy groups because of proposed policy changes it announced last week.

The executive directors of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy penned a letter (pdf) to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him to withdraw changes that they say would impact the privacy of the social network's 1 billion users and break its previous settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission.

The battle began when Facebook announced a proposal to overhaul its system last week, saying that it had outgrown its old model. The two groups say there are … Read more

Friday Poll: Did stances on tech issues sway your vote?

Some major technology-related political hot potatoes have been tossed around this past year. The Stop Online Piracy Act may have gotten the most attention.

CNET broke down the presidential candidates' stances on a variety of tech issues before the election. For example, when it came to SOPA, Romney spoke out against it, while Obama danced a little more delicately around the issue.

The election will be shaping the direction of tech-related legislation for several years to come. It has already had an impact by weeding out three SOPA-sponsoring congressmen.

As an informed geek voter, how much did tech issues sway … Read more

Instagram users upload 250,000 election-related photos

Instagram users showed off their voting activities on Election Day, uploading more than 250,000 election-related photos and immediately posting a slew of photos after hearing of the president's victory, the photo-sharing network posted today.

In the U.S., users tagged more than 100,000 photos with #IVoted and 150,000 photos with #election2012, Instagram reported, with the largest surge of photos coming in right after news outlets projected President Barack Obama's win. At that moment, the number of Instagram photos uploaded each second was at 2.1 times the normal rate.

Clearly, these Americans are not shy … Read more

Election 2012 on Facebook: Chatter reaches new heights

While there's no telling how much impact Facebook had on U.S voters, the social network says its users talked a lot, creating more election buzz than ever.

There were 71.7 million election-related mentions in posts and comments in the U.S. yesterday, and 88.7 million globally, Facebook said today.

The company's data team used its "Talk Meter" to measure the chatter -- posts and comments -- around the election and, ranking them on a scale of 1 to 10, Facebook said. Election 2012 buzz came in at a 9.27. That compares to … Read more