Not Again! Facebook's Possible Problematic Privacy Change

Facebook is once again proposing an update to its privacy policy. And, once again, the new terms are setting off alarm bells.

Most of the concern stems from the following unsettling statement by Facebook deputy general counsel Michael Richter: "In the proposed privacy policy, we've also explained the possibility of working with some partner websites that we pre-approve to offer a more personalized experience at the moment you visit the site."

Facebook elaborates in its new proposed privacy policy: "In order to provide you with useful social experiences off of Facebook, we occasionally need to provide General Information" -- defined as users' names as well as the names of their friends, gender, profile pictures, and material that users shared with everyone -- "about you to pre?approved third party websites and applications that use Platform at the time you visit them (if you are still logged in to Facebook)."

TechCrunch interprets this language as a sign that Facebook could let outside sites take it upon themselves to sign users into Facebook Connect.

The ACLU of Northern California has already flagged this proposed change in policy as a potential privacy threat.

While Facebook says that users will be able to prevent sharing information with third-party sites, it looks like they would have to opt out to do so. Obviously there's nothing inherently wrong with enabling people to share their names or photos with other sites. But it's hugely problematic for Facebook (or any other service) to enable those outside sites to grab that data on their own.

1 comment about "Not Again! Facebook's Possible Problematic Privacy Change ".
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  1. Scott Gregory from Triggerfish Marketing, March 26, 2010 at 9:04 p.m.

    Fool me 12 times, shame on you, Facebook.

    I'm not sure there's any way Facebook can credibly claim to care about user privacy at this point. Ethical marketers and agencies don't use opt-out approaches when confidential user information and privacy is concerned. Yet again and again, it's the same old story at Facebook. New opt-out privacy settings followed by user revolt and loss of credibility and trust.

    By refusing to use industry standard opt-in methods, Facebook keeps itself in the slums of social media along with the rest of the shadier online businesses.

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