Privacy Groups Not Impressed with Facebook Changes

Lora Bentley
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If Facebook can remember these five facts about user privacy, their headaches may begin to fade.

The general reaction to Facebook privacy changes may be positive, but the privacy advocates who have been putting so much pressure on the social networking site aren't quite convinced. According to Ars Technica:

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Center for Digital Democracy, the Privacy Rights Coalition, Consumer Watchdog [and others] ...generally agreed that Facebook's attempt to simplify the user controls was a positive step, but many believe Facebook stopped short of making any substantial changes.


Of particular concern to most of the groups is the fact that Facebook did not make sharing information an opt-in proposition for users. Even with the simplified controls, if users don't want to share certain things, or don't want third parties to have access to their info, they must opt out.


Consumer Watchdog's John Simpson noted:

This whole process shows something of [a] Silicon Valley mindset that Facebook and Google follow: never ask for permission; always ask for forgiveness.

That sounds about right. When the announcement was made Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed out that though the company listened to feedback from regulators, lawmakers and privacy groups, decisions were made primarily based on what users told Facebook they wanted. So essentially, what the regulators want doesn't matter.


In fact, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse's Paul Stevens suggests Facebook made this week's changes hoping they would be just enough to keep the regulators off its back. He said:

I view what has been done as a preemptive strike against regulation by the FTC.


He's probably right, but unfortunately for Facebook, I don't think what they've done so far is going to be enough.

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