Privacy groups file complaint with FTC over Facebook settings

Privacy groups file complaint with FTC over Facebook settings

Summary: A bevy of privacy groups, spearheaded by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook's latest privacy settings.


A bevy of privacy groups, spearheaded by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook's latest privacy settings.

The settings, which on one hand give you more control over privacy yet on the other open your lives to the world, have raised a bit of a ruckus since being unveiled days ago.

EPIC and nine other privacy and consumer groups argue that Facebook's new privacy settings "violate user expectations" and "diminish user privacy."

A few key excerpts from the complaint, which largely is a timeline of user backlash to the new settings:

Facebook’s actions injure users throughout the United States by invading their privacy; allowing for disclosure and use of information in ways and for purposes other than those consented to or relied upon by such users; causing them to believe falsely that they have full control over the use of their information; and undermining the ability of users to avail themselves of the privacy protections promised by the company.

Facebook represented that users “may not want everyone in the world to have the information you share on Facebook,” and that users “have extensive and precise controls available to choose who sees what among their network and friends, as well as tools that give them the choice to make a limited set of information available to search engines and other outside entities.” Facebook’s changes to users’ privacy settings and associated policies in fact categorize as “publicly available information” users’ names, profile photos, lists of friends, pages they are fans of, gender, geographic regions, and networks to which they belong. Those categories of user data are no longer subject to users’ privacy settings.

Facebook’s changes to users’ privacy settings and associated policies regarding application developers in fact eliminate the universal one-click option for opting out of Facebook Platform and Facebook Connect, and replaces it with a less comprehensive option that requires users to provide application developers with personal information that users could previously prevent application developers from accessing.

In a nutshell, these privacy groups want the FTC to thwart Facebook's privacy changes with more consumer protections in place.


Topics: Social Enterprise, Legal, Security

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  • Why didn't Facebook say this in the first place?

    I want to "help" you protect your finances.
    I will need your DOB, SS#, Mother's maiden name, .... etc!
    • All good.

      It creates jobs and promotes subjective opinion.
  • RE: Privacy groups file complaint with FTC over Facebook settings

    Oh, just tell them to hit the DELETE button.
    Geez! People can be such whiners! Looking a gift
    horse in the mouth, too. Someone please remind
    them that Facebook is free! Oh, oh--better idea.
    They can have whatever privacy rules and settings
    they want, but first they have to sign up for one
    year's service at $10 a month. Taa daa! They get
    what they asked for!
    • ...OR create a totally bogus On-line I.D.

      Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter are hardly "gift horses". They are more like tv and radio where you have to tolerate a constant barrage of ads.

      Pointing out deceptive security practices his hardly "whining".

      NONE of these are worth $10 a year, let alone $10 a month.
    • Just because it's free

      does not mean it's good. And Facebook seems to be arbitrarily changing the privacy settings without consulting their users what they want. So what that it's free? I have my settings set to an equivalent of very high but it seems that every time I log in (after reading yet another article of FB "tweaks" to privacy settings), my previous settings are now NOT in place - they were replaced by another setting allowing everyone and their dog to see my name, phone number, location, gender and much more!

      I do like to use FB to keep in touch with my immediate circle of relatives many of whom live all over the world.
      I don't have the "cute" apps and don't allow FB to make my personal information public. So why the **** is it that every time I log in and check my settings, they have been changed (again!) without my knowledge or permission?

      What I believe is that FB should tell their users what is being changed and how their privacy is being compromised BEFORE it is actually done to their profiles. And if it costs me 10 dollars a year to keep the info private, that's fine with me.
    • That's like...

      That's like telling the judge and prosecutor that you didn't charge the guy for the bullet you shot him with.

      That's like the FBI or DHS saying they didn't charge you additional fees for tapping your phone lines.

      Free doesn't make it right.
      Dr. John
    • People Like this person...

      is the reason they get away with this. Will sale soul (if got any) for a few cents. Gosh!!
  • RE: Privacy groups file complaint with FTC over Facebook settings

    Just because something is free does not mean the owners can subject your private data to be available to just anyone. And to top it off the owners are basically black-mailing the free members into signing up for the 120/year not so free subscription. Sounds to me like the owners are having a problem with advertisement revenues and this of cause is a better way to generate more revenues: through black mail.
    • Don't Google own Facebook??

      • Facebook is own by Facebook Inc.

        Facebook is a social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc.
        • Complain to Advertisers

          If part of Facebook's selling strategy is they want people to be able to share information with only the people you want to share it with, then they sould be sued for false advertising. Those people that make money off of advertising, if they do not listen to the public should realize that the public may contact the advertisers and make complaints.
          • Very effective..

            I and other consumers have used that method to get crud off TV programs, that are revolting to viewers. And no I'm not a prude, or right-wing nut, or left wing nut. I'm just a concerned consumer like everyone. Fairness is the middle ground I want to reach.
  • "Keep Previous Settings"???

    When I first logged in after the change, I was given the option to keep my previous custom settings or accept Facebook's new recommendations.

    Am I missing something? By choosing to keep my previous privacy settings did I NOT actually keep my previous settings (which took forever to work out)?
    Buck S.
    • Yes, your missing something.

      Unfortunately you are missing something, they were lying to you.
      • HA!..

        Now the truth comes out! :^0
    • Not as simple as it looks

      From what I've read some "previous settings" have no exact equivalents and after conversion they change. Some things previously accessible to friends became visible to friends of friends. Big deal for some. Not so big for others.
      • Facebook settings

        I logged in and followed the instructions to set my settings. I set them as high as I could and the next time I logged in they were changed back to everyone. I deactivated. End of problem.
        • Hopefully...

          You went in and deleted all your information, and profile data. Otherwise they will just crack in to the old deactivated account and get your information anyway.

          I always suspect the worst. But then, as an IT security tech, I am just naturally that way!
    • nope

      They changed their security structure, so it is impossible for you to keep your old settings. What they meant, and didn't tell you, is that they guessed at what your settings should be based on their new structure.
  • RE: Privacy groups file complaint with FTC over Facebook settings

    It's a free service, it's very simple to read their
    privacy policy and either discontinue use of the service,
    or change the settings to fit your needs. Either way
    nobody is forcing you to input personal information.
    Basically, if you don't want your information out there,
    don't give it out.