CDD: Facebook’s Digital Mea Culpa Not Enough

    December 5, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), which has filed a complaint against Facebook with the Federal Trade Commission because of privacy concerns, says CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s apology to Facebook users won’t make problems go away.

In a blog post this morning, Zuckerberg apologized not only for the mishandling of the launch of Beacon, but also for the company’s slow response to addressing thousands of complaints.

Jeff Chester, executive director of the CDD, says that while the changes Zuckerberg announced this morning were "a step in the right direction," it’ll take more than that to get privacy advocates and government agencies off his back.

"Mr. Zuckerberg isn’t truly candid with Facebook users," Chester said in a statement. "Beacon is just one aspect of a massive data collection and targeting system put in place by Facebook."

Chester doubts Zuckerberg’s stated intention of developing a tool that allows users to "share information across sites with their friends." He hearkens back to earlier statements by the troubled young CEO about making marketers a part of the conversation on Facebook. Part of that plan, says Chester, involves serving "the data collection interests of marketers."

"Mr. Zuckerberg can’t simply now do a digital ‘mea culpa’ and hope that Facebook’s disapproving members, privacy advocates, and government regulators will disappear…CDD will continue to press U.S. and EU regulators to address Facebook’s significant privacy problem."

Kathryn C. Montgomery, Ph.D. Professor of Communication at American University is also calling for regulatory agencies to investigate and develop rules to protect consumer privacy.

"These companies are continuing full steam ahead with new generation of intrusive marketing practices that are based on unprecedented levels of data collection and personal profiling," she said.

By "these companies," Montgomery assumedly includes MySpace and Google, the latter of which the CDD has also taken action against over the DoubleClick buyout. The advocacy group wrote a letter last month to FTC chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras, calling on the regulatory body to investigate privacy issues related to online behavioral targeting.