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Privacy advocates write to Facebook's Zuckerberg

A message for you, buddy
Thu Jun 17 2010, 14:00

PRIVACY SHREDDING Facebook's brash CEO Mark Zuckerberg must respond to privacy questions, um, again.

A posse of privacy advocates has penned a letter (pdf) to Zuckerberg, commending him on the changes Facebook has made so far, but calling for more.

Facebook is to personal data privacy what a swingers' sex club is to personal modesty, and recognising that this is still an issue the authors, who include representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Privacy Activism, Privacy Lives and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse have sent its boss yet another 'to do list'.

Zuckerberg must be rueing the day that he decided to set up Facebook. Aside from the success, fame, and money it has bought him, he has also had to battle annoying questions about civil liberties and personal privacy. This must surely get in the way of inking marketing and advertising deals and sandal shopping.

After some pleasantries, in which the authors acknowledge the changes already made, they get down to business and ask Zuckerberg to make some real changes.

"We are glad to see that Facebook has taken steps in the past weeks to address some of its outstanding privacy problems. However, we are writing to urge you to continue to demonstrate your commitment to the principle of giving users control over how and with whom they share," wrote the group.

Not short of ideas, they have come up with six recommendations for the firm. What a shame they were never invited to any in-house Facebook privacy meetings, as this advice regarding the privacy rights of individuals would have saved the social notworking outfit a lot of hassles.

Included in its tips are the suggestion that users opt-in to information sharing applications, as opposed to the default opt-out set up, and never have any unnecessary personal information shared with marketers.

Another suggestion that's bound to trouble young Zuckerberg is that Facebook should use security technology, such as the HTTPS protocol, to protect users.

So far, so reasonable. Another worthy idea suggests that Facebook needs to simplify its controls somewhat less, as apparently its current settings options don't exactly help its massive user base.

"Facebook's latest changes allow users a 'nuclear option' to opt out of applications entirely," they observed. "While this is an important setting, it is not adequate for meaningful control. Facebook users should also have the option to choose to share information only with specific applications."

Finally, with an eye on the fact that some sane people might want to leave the site, but register for another social networking service, they requested that it be made easy to export your content.

"Users should have control over the details of their social network and the content that they have uploaded to Facebook, and should be able to export and move that data to another service if they decide they are uncomfortable with Facebook's privacy policies," they said.

"Facebook should demonstrate its commitment to user control by giving users easy tools for directly downloading their content and information about their social network, as other companies in the social networking space have already done."

To which we would add, Facebook needs to let its users simply leave and never reactivate their profiles unless they explicitly rejoin it. µ

 

 

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