Facebook Pushes the Privacy Envelope with Data Sharing

Lora Bentley
Slide Show

Check out highlights from Lora's poll of industry experts on the topic of online security.

Score one more for Facebook's "act first, apologize later" strategy.


Last month the company announced it would make user information-including phone numbers-available to application developers. But they wouldn't get access to the data until after they got express permission "through the usual permission dialogues," according to the INQUIRER.


After only three days, however, Facebook suspended the program, indicating it had received feedback that users weren't exactly clear on when they would and would not be giving up access to their information, even with the standard permissions dialogue boxes. At the time, Facebook said:

[W]e are making changes to help ensure you only share this information when you intend to do so. ... We look forward to re-enabling this improved feature in the next few weeks.

But how much information did the developers get in those three days? And why does Facebook want to give it to them anyway?


These are among the questions that the House of Representatives Privacy Caucus wants answered, PCWorld.com reports. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas), who co-chair the caucus, wrote a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking for "specifics": How was the information to be shared? How was the program vetted? Why did Facebook decide to suspend the program?


In a statement, Markey said:

Facebook needs to protect the personal information of its users to ensure that Facebook doesn't become Phonebook.

How much would you bet that's exactly what Facebook wants to happen? And by pushing the envelope bit by bit before regulators decide on these issues, the company may well succeed-for better or worse.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Feb 8, 2011 1:54 AM Linda Linda  says:

Did you see the movie, http://www.thesocialnetwork-movie.com/?

The arrogance of the entire situation is amazing.

FB is suppose to be so wonderful and it does many good things for people, yet it is hard to stomach the arrogance and greed.  Now people's privacy are at risk and that is just part of the same arrogance displayed in the movie and the potential IPO next year with the private investment from Goldman Sach's clients - which are mostly Foreign. Needless to say as wonderful FB may be it appears they are not practicing social responsibility, even though no one required you to join FB.  If those will be the rules for the social networks it opens up many 'cans of worms'.


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