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Most users unhappy with Facebook privacy

An overwhelming 95 percent of users oppose social network's latest decision to share data with third-party sites without prior permission from users, according to new poll.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor on

A whopping 95 percent of users said they were opposed to Facebook's recent privacy changes that would provide third-party sites access to user data without prior permission, according to a new survey released Thursday.

Conducted by security firm Sophos, the poll of 680 users found the majority were unhappy with Facebook's recent decision to allow "pre-approved" third-party Web sites to access user data on the popular social network.

Data to be made available for sharing will include users' names, profile pictures and friend connections, Facebook announced in a blog post last month.

Only 2 percent of survey respondents were supportive of the company's move, while 3 percent were unsure of what the changes entailed.

Sophos' senior technology consultant, Graham Cluley, took issue with Facebook's policy, noting in a blog post that the social networking giant was eroding users' privacy through "stealth". By getting users to opt out of the sharing clause rather than opt in, Facebook places the onus of privacy protection on users, he said.

Furthermore, Cluley noted that the change in policy also threatens to expose user data that was not in question when users first signed up for the social network service.

"Most Facebook users still don't know how to set their Facebook privacy options safely, finding the whole system confusing and long-winded," he said.

A consequence of Facebook's decision could be users visiting a new site and discovering that the site already has their personal information, he added.

In a ZDNet Asia report following the company's privacy change, a Singapore-based lawyer advised companies exploring business partnerships with Facebook to be mindful about "potential pitfalls" that may result from the social network's frequent changes in privacy policy.

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