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EPIC rails against Facebook Timeline

More fuel for its FTC complaint
Fri Dec 16 2011, 10:01

PRIVACY ADVOCACY the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has reacted swiftly with stinging criticism to the launch of Facebook Timeline.

The group said that the launch forces more privacy settings changes onto Facebook users, which flies in the face of both privacy and a settlement reached between the firm and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just two weeks ago.

"Without user consent, Facebook announced today that it would post archived user information, making old posts available under Facebook's current downgraded privacy settings," said the group in a post on its web site in response to the launch of Timeline, a Facebook feature that catalogues users' onto one page.

"Users have just a week to clean up their history before Timeline goes live. The surprising announcement follows a recent decision by the Federal Trade Commission which found that the company had engaged in 'unfair and deceptive' trade practices when it changed the privacy settings of its users."

EPIC was behind the original complaint and is asking Facebook users to submit comments that could strengthen the proposed settlement.

Facebook has already admitted that it made "a bunch of privacy mistakes", and is ready to settle with the FTC. The FTC is firm in its view of Facebook's history and said that it had promised that it would protect its users' information by keeping it private, while "repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public". It added that these actions were unfair and deceptive and violated US federal law.

In response, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised for the repeated mistakes that his firm made. "I think we have a good history of providing transparency and control over who can see your information. That said, I'm the first to admit that we've made a bunch of mistakes," he said. "Privacy principles are written very deeply into our code."

We have asked the company to comment on this latest criticism.

Update
"Timeline gives you an easy way to rediscover the things you shared and collect your most important moments," said a spokesperson in response to the criticisms.

"It also lets you share new experiences, like the music you listen to or the miles you run. Timeline does not change any of your privacy settings." µ

 

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