How Private Is Your Facebook?
The popular social networking site Facebook has made the decision to loosen its user privacy restrictions, a decision that angered U.S. Senators and confused Facebook users.
"Facebook's expansion of publicly available data to include a user's current city, hometown, education, work, likes, interests, and friends has raised concerns for users who would like to have an opt-in option to share this profile information," the Senators said in the letter. "Through the expanded use of 'connections,' Facebook now obligates users to make publicly available certain parts of their profile that were previously private."
The Senators recommend that Zuckerberg change the current policy so that the default setting would no longer be to allow users' personal information to be shared with third party sites.
Facebook also announced the launch of its new social plug-ins feature, which will have "Like" and "Recommend" buttons popping up on more than 75 sites, such as Yelp, Pandora, and the New York Times.
"This flow of social information has profound benefits from driving better decisions to keeping in touch more easily and we're really proud that Facebook is part of the shift toward more social and personalized experiences everywhere online," said the official Facebook blog on April 21.
A follow-up blog post on April 26 addressed users' concerns over privacy controls. The statement assured members that "no personal information about your actions is provided to advertisers on Facebook.com or on the other site (containing the social plug-in)."
Along with the Senators, others disagree.
"On the one hand, the web has created so many amazing innovations because it's a fantastic way to make information more available, and initial privacy concerns have faded into the background as people become more used to services," said Pete Warden on his blog PeteSearch. Warden, a former Apple engineer, was recently threatened with a lawsuit by Facebook after he created and made public an information database based on the popular social networking site's account holders.
"On the other, the jury's not back on how the revolution will end," Warden said.
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