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Facebook Stubs Toe on Privacy Yet Again

facebook-icon 1Facebook is trying to get changes in their privacy policy pushed through but that pesky old FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is saying, “Whoa there big fella!”

The New York Times reports on this action but it seems as if Facebook should be fine based on this from the article

The Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday that it had begun an inquiry into whether the social network’s proposed new privacy policies, unveiled two weeks ago, violated a 2011 agreement with regulators. Under that agreement, the social network is required to get the explicit consent of its users before exposing their private information to new audiences.

Facebook’s new policies make clear that users are required to grant the company wide permission to use their personal information in advertising as a condition of using the service.

Despite this, it appears that the FTC is trying to send a message to Facebook that they need to play by the rules.

Peter Kaplan, a spokesman for the F.T.C., said on Wednesday that Facebook was subject to continuing oversight by the commission because of the consent order.

“Facebook never sought out a discussion with us beforehand about these proposed changes,” he said. “We’re monitoring compliance with the order. Part of that involves interacting with Facebook.”

So why all the fuss? Well, not everyone is convinced that these proposed changes are actually doing what Facebook claims. As a result, there has been some pressure on the FTC to flex their muscle and call Facebook to the mat, so to speak.

On Wednesday, Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, stepped up pressure on the F.T.C., sending a letter to the agency raising concerns about the new policies and asking for an investigation.

“This troubling shift in policy raises a number of questions about whether Facebook is improperly altering its privacy policy without proper user consent and, if the changes go into effect, the degree to which Facebook users will lose control over their personal information,” Senator Markey wrote.

Markey isn’t alone in his concerns. Let’s cut to the chase though. The reality here is that Facebook is essentially reaping what it has sown over many years of terrible privacy moves. No one truly trusts Facebook and that ignominious reputation is well earned. It seems that only if Facebook is doing everything by the letter and being as plain and simple with its language etc will they get a free pass on policy updates. Considering their track record, that is not likely to happen. Facebook’s reputation is that if you shook hands with Facebook you better check to see that you have all of your fingers after that encounter.

That reputation results in this kind of assessment of the current efforts.

Privacy advocates also say Facebook is being disingenuous in its description of the new policies. They say the language would essentially give the company blanket permission to use the name, photo and other personal content of its users in advertising or sponsored content.

“Clearly, the proposed Facebook changes raise troubling concerns,” said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, one of the privacy groups that wrote to the F.T.C. last week. “The Federal Trade Commission needs to act.”

Usually I am not a huge fan of this kind of ‘complaining’ that results in government action but to honest, no one should trust Facebook as far as they can throw them. Why? Just because.

What’s your opinion?