Home Facebook Privacy Flap Finished? Not So Fast, Say Privacy Groups

Facebook Privacy Flap Finished? Not So Fast, Say Privacy Groups

So, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg came out, spoke about privacy, and the company offered up some ways for users to make quick and easy adjustments to what they were sharing with who – privacy flap over and done, right? Not so fast, say 10 of the nations top privacy groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy & Technology and more, in a letter to the world’s largest social network.

Although Facebook recently came out and reversed some of its controversial privacy settings, the letter, which is addressed to Zuckerberg, urges him to “continue to demonstrate your commitment to the principle of giving users control over how and with whom they share” by taking six additional steps.

1) Fix the “app gap” by empowering users to decide exactly which applications can access their personal information.

2) Make “instant personalization” opt-in by default.

3) Do not retain data about specific visitors to third party sites that incorporate “social plugins” or the “like” button unless the site visitor chooses to interact with those tools.

4) Provide users with control over every piece of information they can share via Facebook, including their name, gender, profile picture, and networks.

5) Protect Facebook users from other threats by using an HTTPS connection for all interactions by default.

6) Provide users with simple tools for exporting their uploaded content and the details of their social network so that users who are no longer comfortable with Facebook’s policies and want to leave for another social network service do not have to choose between safeguarding their privacy and staying connected to their friends.

While some of these demands, such as increasing data portability or allowing users to control “every piece of information they can share via Facebook” would be nice, we wouldn’t want to hold our breath waiting for them. Other changes, such as making “instant personalization” opt-in or fixing the “app gap”, could do quite a bit, as these were central issues to the recent backlash the company was experiencing.

The letter goes on to say that “‘privacy’ and ‘social’ go hand in hand” and that Facebook needs to work to make the site “a trusted place for both public and private sharing.” As danah boyd argued during her keynote at SXSW this year, privacy is a matter of context and right now, Facebook is not respecting this simple fact.

The final request of these 10 organizations to Facebook?

“Please make the default ‘social–and private.'”

From there, if Facebook users want to share their pictures, status updates and relationship status with the world, well, so be it.

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