Facebook users rebel over privacy concerns

New feature delivers automatic feeds of changes to friends' sites. Staking tool or handy service?
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

Students are registering their major dissatisfaction over a new feature in Facebook that sends RSS news feeds to their friends, reports the Washhington Post. When a user updates her Facebook page, the system announces the change to all of the user's friends.

Some 9 million students use Facebook, a social networking site, for posting messages, blogs images and music. The trouble is that students who use Facebook have little awareness of the ramifications of posting risque personal photos and information. In a rare moment of collective concern over personal privacy, students are complaining about the new format.

"I don't like it because it's kind of stalker-ish," said Yan Fu, a freshman at George Washington University, adding that he now thinks twice before posting to his page. "I think, 'Everybody can read it,' so I've avoided it."

As a result of the changes, protest groups and petitions to change the format are springing up all over the Internet. Students have created Facebook groups with names like "I hate the new facebook format" and "Students Against Facebook News Feed."

Apparently, students are getting the message that social networking sites are windows into which anyone can peer. Students are changing their privacy settings on their accounts, thereby limiting access to certain individuals. Others feel that broadcasting personal information in a news feed is going too far.

"It's really creepy," said Jenny Myers, who graduated this year from American University and works in Washington. "I think it's absolutely ridiculous, putting people's information out there, even small things."

Facebook's chairman and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg heard users concern and said in an official statement:

"We're not oblivious of the Facebook groups popping up about this. . . And we agree, stalking isn't cool; but being able to know what's going on in your friends' lives is. This is information people used to dig for on a daily basis, nicely reorganized and summarized so people can learn about the people they care about."
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