Facebook Privacy Stance Raises Federal Eyebrows

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Facebook Privacy Stance Raises Federal Eyebrows

Facebook changed user privacy settings on their site late last year, classifying a lot of user data by default as “publicly available information”. The FTC has been alerted and are now probing the matter.

Every change made by Facebook seems to upset privacy pundits. The latest changes in their policy have once again not gone down well with the advocates of user privacy. EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) and nine other groups filed a complaint against Facebook with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC is now looking into the matter and has asked EPIC to arrange a meeting. They have, however, refused to confirm or deny whether an investigation is being conducted on the issue or not.

David Vladeck, the FTC’s consumer protection chief wrote in a letter to EPIC, “As the amount of personal information shared on social networking sites grows and the number of third parties and advertising networks with access to such information grows it is important that consumers understand how their data is being shared and what privacy rules apply. The commission staff believes it is critical that companies provide transparency about how this data is being handled, maintained, shared and protected and what steps consumers can take to control the use of their information.”

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said, “people have already gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect, what the current social norms are.”

In other words, Zuckerberg claims that the increased acceptance of social networking gives Facebook the right to decide how much of their users’ information can be shared and with whom. This stance is likely to invite the ire and criticism of the FTC.

As if to add insult to injury, an unnamed employee of Facebook allegedly said, “we track everything. Every photo you view every person you’re tagged with, every wall post you make and so forth.” He also says that all information is stored in a database, even if a user tries to delete it.