Posted May 6, 2010 6:51 am by with 4 comments

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As I watch more news come out daily about another group that is attacking Facebook for privacy issues or how Facebook has another privacy gaffe I can’t help but wonder. Did Facebook expect this kind of furious backlash and figured it would take time before people just forgot about it or are they genuinely surprised at just how pissed people are around their apparent lack of concern for users privacy?

Maybe this wouldn’t be nearly as bad if Facebook had done what Chief Facebooker Mark Zuckerberg thought would’ve been better from the start which was to have no privacy measures in place. Of course, maybe Facebook wouldn’t have become so wildly popular if it wasn’t “private” at least at one point in time.

The latest group to urge the government to get Facebook to play nice regarding privacy is talking to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as reported by Bloomberg

Recent changes at Facebook “violate user expectations, diminish user privacy, and contradict Facebook’s own representations,” said Marc Rotenberg, who runs the Electronic Privacy Information Center, one of 15 groups that complained about Facebook in a filing with the Federal Trade Commission late yesterday.

Signers urged the FTC to investigate Facebook’s privacy practices and force it to take steps to better guard against security breaches. The complaint follows an effort led by New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer last week to get the FTC to review how the social network deals with user data.

Facebook may be in for the long haul on this one. It’s bad enough that they have played so loosely with their users’ privacy as of late but they can’t seem to get out of their own way either. Yesterday’s screw-up around their chat feature further reveals just how suspect Facebook really is regarding privacy.

Earlier in the day, Facebook temporarily shut down its “chat” feature after discovering a security flaw that let users see friends’ messages that were not meant to be shared.

The software error, reported initially by technology blog TechCrunch, exposed the chat conversations and friend requests of people within a user’s network when they clicked on an option in the site’s settings.

“When we received reports of the problem, our engineers promptly diagnosed it and temporarily disabled the chat function,” Facebook spokeswoman Malorie Lucich said in a statement.

With all of this controversy around Facebook and privacy the company acts unfazed and continues to say that it is working to make things better. I hate to be such a cynic but I just don’t see much more than words coming from Facebook and that seems to be how they do business. As a result, I think we should all be very concerned when it comes to this company and what they are trying to do from a base of power that includes 400 million users. An example of their “words” approach can be seen in the Bloomberg piece when talking about their response to Senator Chuck Schumer from last week.

After Schumer’s public remarks last week, company officials met with representatives of the senator and agreed that Facebook users should control public access to personal information and that the company should explain how to accomplish that, Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of global communications and public policy, said at the time.

It just rings hollow and it seems like there are more people out there trying to offer Facebook privacy “how-to” lessons with regard to keeping information private but Facebook is still just talking about it.

How do look at all of this commotion around Facebook and privacy. Do you care? Is everyone concerned over nothing or is this really a problem?

  • Dean

    With any social networks (especially Facebook), its buyer beware – you need to assume you are giving up some level of privacy. Having said that, I don’t think most people on these networks really care and are more interested in the vanity-driven attention that social networks foster.

  • My head is nodding here….

    As I blogged about just this Facebook privacy issue as it pertains to our Canadian privacy laws here —

    As well, as noted in same article, our own Canadian Privacy Commissioner is looking at solutions for Canadians, or as their site notes, lawsuits over same….

    Very interesting…eh!



  • Facebook is more often in new due to its privacy policy and day to day issue with it, it was sharing user information with docs…….but as you know that many of its FB user do no care about privacy options which i felt over the long time from thefacebook to facebook
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Poor Internet Reputation Management =-.

    • I think that as hacking software becomes more sophisticated many users will be FORCED to care.
      I read an interesting article on MIT’s publication technologyreview, about how having a “recommend” function represents a permanent security flaw. I think that unless a site takes sincere ownership of the task of guarding user privacy, the identity protection of the people using that site will erode.

      Giles, TrustWorks