Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Facebook Faces FTC Complaint

Ars Technica is reporting that EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) has filed a complaint with the FTC over Facebook’s privacy control debacle. As you know, a few weeks ago Facebook decided to make some changes to their privacy settings, and required users to set their new privacy settings as they logged into Facebook.

These changes that Facebook made to their privacy settings were, on the surface, very welcomed news for those advocating for more privacy on Facebook.  But, there was a problem.  Facebook decided by default, to set your account as public instead of private.  As a result many people who didn’t want their accounts public may have inadvertently done so if they skipped through the process.

As I said in an earlier post (which you can read here), there were many people online that felt that Facebook was being deceptive, and wanted people to make all there information public for the Benefit of Facebook.  Some were also worried that Facebook’s actions would lead to regulation of online social networks. 

Now that the government is involved in this situation with Facebook,  we can’t really be certain what the results will be.  Will the government move to regulate social networks?  Personally, I would like to know how far the FTC could go in handling this complaint, since it would effect all of us using social networks.  Certainly it could be beneficial if it ensures that we all get more privacy online, but it could be at the expense of the social networks, especially if any new requirement of social networks was too onerous.

In any case, we will have to all wait and see what the outcome will be.

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