Will Facebook’s Privacy Policy Cause Users to Close Their Accounts?

Post by Randall Ryder

Social media giant Facebook has been under fire in recent weeks for concerns about another privacy policy. In the last few months, Facebook has made a number of changes to their privacy policy. For the most part, privacy of individual pages has been lessened, and more information from each page is available to the web at large.

The latest uproar surrounded a third-party sharing of user information. Unless users manually opted-out (rather then the usual opt-in), Facebook shares certain information from a user’s page with third-party websites. For example, if you were reading a news website, you might see a little box indicating that "Friend A read article B and commented on it." Essentially, Facebook would take data from your page and integrate into other "approved third-party websites" that you happened to be browsing.

Most the concern seemed to be over the fact the policy was opt-out, rather then opt-in. Perhaps a bigger concern is even if a user manually sets up their own account to be as private as possible, would that prevent a friend’s page from sharing that info with a third-party website? One would think not, but it is not clear what would actually happen.

The uproar has caused a number of petitions to pop up, with some of them announcing dates and times when people should all delete their Facebook accounts in a showing of demonstration. The latest checks on these petitions revealed that relatively few people are willing to delete their accounts entirely. For the most part, many people have taken the time to review their account settings, and establish the security settings they desire. 

It is worth noting that nobody is currently arguing that Facebook has done anything illegal. For the most part, users are seemingly upset that a social media tool they thought was private is, in fact, becoming quite public. In fact, the ACLU has started a campaign urging users to tell Facebook how they feel, and demand the site become more private again. Given that Facebook apparently held a meeting last week regarding social media policy, the uproar does not appear lost on the company.

If users are concerned about the privacy of their page, one tool is reclaimprivacy.org, which will access your own page’s settings, and let you know about possible "security" holes. At the very least, it can help users verify what information from their page is being shared.

Discussions of Facebook Privacy (or Lack Thereof) Burning Up Blogosphere | Legal Blog Watch


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