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.
`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.
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).
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