Facebook rule changes spark new privacy complaints

UPDATE:  Facebook said late Thursday that it’s reviewing user comments submitted since the proposed changes were announced on Aug. 29. While it’s no longer accepting input, the changes won’t go into effect before next week.

“We are taking the time to ensure that user comments are reviewed and taken into consideration to determine whether further updates are necessary and we expect to finalize the process in the coming week,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

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It’s almost a law of physics:  Action – Facebook announces changes to its terms of service. Reaction – Watchdog groups complain the new rules would give the company more leeway to violate users’ privacy.

In the latest flap, a coalition of watchdog groups is asking the Federal Trade Commission to block a set of proposed new rules that Facebook announced two weeks ago – which the critics say would make it easier for Facebook to use members’ profile pictures and other personal information in advertising.

The critics say the new rules violate terms of a settlement that Facebook reached with the FTC over previous privacy complaints in 2011.  Ironically, the social networking company drafted the new rules partly in response to a recent settlement in another privacy case brought by class-action lawyers, which required Facebook to warn its members more clearly about how it uses their information.

But the critics are complaining that the new rules have changed the “default” setting for Facebook users’ consent, so that users are now assumed to have given permission for their information to be used. They also charge the company has changed its privacy controls so it’s more difficult for users to withdraw that permission.

“As a consequence, Facebook users who reasonably believed that their images and content would not be used for commercial purposes without their consent will now find their pictures showing up on the pages of their friends endorsing the products of Facebook’s advertisers,” the critics say in a letter sent to the FTC by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Watchdog and three other privacy groups.

Facebook says it hasn’t changed its practices and is only trying to explain them more clearly.  The company has posted the changes on its site and is inviting public comment.  And while a number of Facebook users have expressed their displeasure — sample comment: “Poor decision, Facebook.” — it seems likely the changes will be adopted.

The FTC has shown an interest in privacy issues involving Internet companies like Facebook and Google, but so far there’s been no word of any reaction to the latest complaint.

 (Photo of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by John Green/Bay Area News Group)

 

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  • ChrisP

    This is why I use Ravetree and DuckDuckGo instead of facebook and google. If you actually look, then you will find that there are already good alternatives to the “Big Brother” sites. If we support these other sites, then they will only get better.

    • http://Facebook Gwendolyn Clark

      Talk about the dumbing down of America! So I have been having this little problem with my Facebook account. I, of course, wanted to keep my account secure, so I enabled the “Code Generator” under my settings in Facebook. Every time I logged on from a strange device or browser I would get sent a verification code via my phone, that I would then type into the space on my laptop, tablet, or whatever I was using, to gain access to my account. Well, that got old when I cancelled my phone service to move out of the country. I always had to make sure I had wifi on my phone to get my code, or I was stuck. So I disabled the “Code Generator” or so I thought. For some reason it keeps demanding a code. I have disabled it 3 or 4 times. I tried to log onto my Facebook today and of course they want the code. This time I pushed the button that says “having problems”. I clicked on all the right bubbles, and filled in the blanks, and finally they asked me to log in again. LOL, Facebook’s next trick was to state, I had not logged in from this browser. Seriously, I am at home! I logged in yesterday. Here is the best part. They now want me to send in either my passport, birth certificate, government issued ID, with a birth date.

      I spent 3 hours reading about all the scams on Face book and they seriously think I am going to be that dumb. Is this the only option, copies of my most personal documents of identification, for what? They already had me change my password, but they still would not let me back on. They allow people to have all kinds of names on their accounts. I, myself, have changed mine many times. Since people can randomly change their account names how can you expect the account name to always match an ID. My Facebook account name has my middle name which I dropped when I got married, it has my maiden name not my current married name, and it says RN at the end. Some people come up with fake names to protect their privacy.

      I can’t remember the last time I ever heard anything so absurd. Yes, I’ll just send it on over via the internet to God knows who, in God knows where. Yes, now I feel so much more secure. Facebook never wanted any documentation to sign up. Any 10 year old kid on the street can get a Facebook account, but I can’t access mine, oh no, have to make sure it’s really me, WITH MY PASSPORT??

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