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Business Law

Facebook Under Fire Over Privacy Issues

Facebook cannot just do whatever it wants with its user’s information, or at least that’s what four U.S. senators, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and many users are saying. On May 7th, EPIC, along with 14 other privacy and consumer protection organizations, filed a complaint (.pdf) asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)  to examine the privacy disclosures of social networking site Facebook and claiming that Facebook has failed to fully disclose the extent to which it shares information with third parties. 

Noting that Facebook’s “size and reach is unparallelled among social networking sites,”  the complaint claims that the new Facebook privacy policy makes

`publicly available’ information that had previously been protectable under users’ privacy settings…[ including] users’ hometown, education, work, activities, likes and interests, and, in some cases, likes and recommendations from non-Facebook pages around the web.

EPIC argues that this privacy policy is “misleading and inconsistent with the site’s representations.” Wired.com reported that some users are so angry about the privacy policy changes that they are calling for a boycott of Facebook for the entire day on June 6th, 2010.

This all seems to be making Facebook a bit conciliatory. The Los Angeles Times reports that, amid claims of a security breach that permitted some users to see other users’ instant messages and pending friend requests, “Facebook disabled its chat service.”

You can bet that Twitter will be following all this very closely, as will we.

On internet and electronic privacy issues, including a discussion of privacy protections for personal information, see Privacy Compliance and Litigation in California, chap 4 (Cal CEB 2008).

© The Regents of the University of California, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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