Facebook Faces A Whole New Round of Privacy Concerns

Lawmakers reportedly seeking FTC investigation

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Facebook Faces A Whole New Round of Privacy Concerns
[ Social Media]

Last year at f8, Facebook revealed its Open Graph and social plugins. Shortly thereafter, privacy concerns became a major point of discussion throughout the media and around the water coolers. We all watched CEO Mark Zuckerberg sweat through interrogations over this, but ultimately the company made numerous changes until the discussion finally fizzled out a bit.

Are you concerned about Facebook and privacy? Let us know.

The discussion never went completely away, but privacy no longer dominated the conversation about Facebook after a while. Last week, Facebook finally held this year’s f8 event, and of course made more huge announcements, including the new Timeline feature (which still hasn’t been rolled out to everybody) and the new Open Graph, which makes apps a lot more information sharing-friendly.

Naturally, more information shared, means more privacy concerns.

The Poynter Institute says Facebook and news organizations are pushing the boundaries of online privacy and that “Facebook again my have gone too far in its quest to make privacy obsolete and that this time some news organizations could get burned by going along with it.”

Poynter Digital Media Fellow Jeff Sonderman calls out new Facebook apps like the Washington Post’s Social Reader, and similar offerings from The Guardian and The Daily, as well as Yahoo News, which is having readers sign up to have their reading activity streamed to their Facebook profile.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of such concerns since f8. Mashable founder Pete Cashmore talked about this in another article saying that he saw on Facebook that someone he knows professionally was reading articles with titles like: “Heather Morris on Breast Implants,” and “Perrey Reeves Shows Off Bikini Body (PHOTO).”

Big deal? Career ender? Probably not in this case, but it gives some people an icky feeling to think about everyone they’re friends with on Facebook being able to see every page they look at. And you can bet that more and more sites will rush to get on board with this new Open Graph, just as they did after last year’s f8.

Earlier this week, we talked about how Facebook may be tracking your web browsing activity even when you’re logged out. An Australian hacker blogged about a test he ran looking at cookies. Facebook’s initial response was that it doesn’t track users across the web, but uses cookies on social plugins to personalize content, help improve what Facebook does or for safety/security reasons.

“No information we receive when you see a social plugin is used to target ads, we delete or anonymize this information within 90 days, and we never sell your information,” a company spokesperson was quoted as saying.

The logged out cookies specifically, they said, are used for safety and protection, including IDing spammers/phishers, detecting when someone unauthorized is trying to access accounts, helping users get back into their accounts if they’re hacked, dialing registration for under-age users, etc.

More on all of that here.

Either way, Facebook’s responses weren’t enough to keep lawmakers from urging the FTC to investigate Facebook, according to MSNBC, which reports that the co-chairmen (Reps. Edward Markey and Joe Barton) of the Congress’s Bi-Partisan Caucus want the FTC to investigate the company over “potential” privacy violations. MSNBC quotes a letter from the co-chairs:

“As co-chairs of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, we believe that tracking user behavior without their consent or knowledge raises serious privacy concerns,” they said. “When users log out of Facebook, they are under the expectation that Facebook is no longer monitoring their activities. We believe this impression should be the reality. Facebook users should not be tracked without their permission.”

Facebook of course says there is no security or privacy breach.

Whether or not the FTC will launch an investigation remains to be seen, as does whether or not Facebook is really doing anything it shouldn’t be in the eyes of the law.

Regardless, this is the kind of thing the company surely doesn’t want saturating the headlines again – particularly as it tries to get people to put their entire lives on Facebook via the Timeline.

The launch of Google+ did seemingly inspire Facebook to give users more control over who can see what when they publish a status update, as the company recently launched some new features making sharing a little big more Cirlces-like. But that was before the f8 announcements, and the way the new Open Graph works with “frictionless sharing” as Facebook calls it, seemingly undermines the mentality that went into those features. When you look at an article online that you have agreed to share to your timeline, are you going to know who all sees that, or is it just going to be in the ticker for everyone you know?

Do you think Facebook’s latest announcements hurt your online privacy? Let us know in the comments.

Facebook Faces A Whole New Round of Privacy Concerns
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  • Brad

    My private photo albums were automatically set to public and the tools to control them were broken.

  • concenred

    …well they will know i was here that i have left this comment…really now will someone tell me when this fun social media website convinced everyone to integrate it into everything [the share button is even on my website!] on the internet. I really wonder how much longer i need to interact with facebook.

  • http://tattoocaretips.com doneinstyle

    Can we say “identity theft”???

    There are a lot of issues here. One is that if you share with friends and they have THEIR feed set to share with friends of friends and they’re the type that friends everybody, you’re toast.

    I use only a part of my name on facebook. I don’t put much personally identifying info in there, and all of it is slightly wrong.

    Re google+ last I heard they’re still making people register with their legal names. If anyone thinks that your privacy is safe there, think again.

  • Richard

    Facebook is just getting plain creepy. It has become a portal for voyeurs, stalkers and narcissists.

    Do I benefit from sharing every detail about my life and browsing history? Absolutely not.

    Zuckerberg’s monster already goes way beyond anything George Orwell could have imagined in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

  • http://ilocaldirect.com Dan

    The way things are going, unless drastic measures taken and soon, privacy will become a thing of the past.

  • http://www.mycashforums.com matt

    how can FB get away with this many take there privacy seriously as I do

  • http://www.ahasess.com dani

    Privacy is important to me

  • http://www.myrisedesign.net Taylor

    The solution as always is to abstain from using facebook. If privacy is truly such a concern, you should limit what information YOU make public. Facebook doesn’t open your wallet and put information on it’s site, the user does, so privacy is a concern you wave when you use facebook in anyway. Don’t want information shared? Don’t share it!

    • http://www.gooddealsonline.net Ty H

      Open Graph, which makes apps a lot more information sharing-friendly. The Poynter Institute says Facebook and news organizations are pushing the boundaries of online privacy and that “Facebook again my have gone too far in its quest to make privacy obsolete and that this time some news organizations could get burned by going along with it.”


  • http://www.gooddealsonline.net Ty H

    facebook has become so ridiculously confusing, misleading, difficult to navigate, misunderstood, untrustworthy and controling that it’s almost hard to understand why we use it, but I do realize it’s merely because that’s where everyone is. In my case, I have learned that they actually censor people on an individual basis (me for one example) and am willing to privide proof upon request. As far as privacy, as much as I have used FB, read about FB, seen all the changes in the privacy policy (which takes an attorney to understand), heard other peoples comment’s (by mouth) on my FB activity & certain “unexplained” relationships between profiles that are in NO WAY linked, It has become very clear to me that there is VERY LITTLE, IF ANY privacy & that they are either not telling all the facts concerning privacy or twisting or hiding or SOMETHING! FB cannot be trusted!

  • Vickie D.

    YES…I think the recent FB MESS certainly did/will/has HURT not only privacy issues on the site but also EVERYTHING ELSE on the site as well. I do not use FB as much as I did prior to the most recent changes but it’s almost mandatory that one retain a membership because that’s where the rest of the world lives!! NOT GOOD :(:(:(

  • http://ripsychotherapy.com Mike A

    I have an account. But I stopped using it sometime ago. I leave it intact. But I don’t really know why I just don’t close it. To me, FB is just begging for somebody to come along with a more user-friendly and simpler model.

  • apple

    I have a child in high school and they received a lecture from a police officer telling them that it was important NOT to make fake face book accounts! Some one asked ‘but sir don’t you make fake accounts to catch paedophiles?’ Hurrrumph Hurrumph they said oh yes but that is for your SAFETY!!!!!

    Animal farm anyone?????

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com Virtual Business Assistant

    From the start there has been issues with Facebook’s privacy settings and every one has to be careful with what they share……..

  • http://www.trustpassport.com Rob L

    Recently, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s Office has initiated a major investigation of Facebook’s practices here in Europe. It could have major repercussions for the rest of the world.
    More info here: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/irish-data-protection-commissioner-to-begin-facebook-audit/4262

  • JM

    I have been concerned with something relating to privacy on facebook. Their current privacy settings seemed to have eliminated the option that prevents certain people from reading or posting responses to certain messages. Now, everybody can respond, and we become moderators of our own pages. Friend lists seem to be gone too, and I think that it shows less privately what is posted on other friend’s pages, etc. My page has also been setup so that people who are not friends cannot read certain information, because I don’t want random people and potential employers researching me on facebook. Some information I would like to keep private, but facebook seems to get less and less private.

  • http://zeecolor.com Zee Silveira

    It’s easy to forget when you are typing in your personal information that FB is in the background and that it ultimately controls all your information. It’d be nice to have a way to choose when and what entries to delete completely from the system.

  • http://www.puckamarketing.co.za Badisheng

    This open graph story is going too far for me. We might have to use different browsers for FB related activities and ‘Private’ web activity.

  • http://www.twitter.com/pressrelease @pressrelease

    Facebook asks for last five characters of driver’s license as an optional security question.

  • http://eatbulagalivestreaming.blogspot.com rrb

    it’s a virtual world so everything possible to happen…

    eat bulaga live streaming

  • http://styleria.com/blog Toongee

    some parts of the story is a bit funny… the professional reading curious titles… lol.
    but seriously, no one needs to know everything about our moves online, it gets intrusive.
    we should have the option of saying what we want others to know about us.

  • http://www.healtydiettips.com Kamaeni

    I love sharing in Facebook because it can relieve stress and boredom because we can personalized communications as a friend let alone friends had not seen

  • http://rubberducky2568@yahoo.com teresa

    My ex is a psychopath and I know he has been in my wall due to comments he made and would have no other way of knowing. My privacy settings are in place. Don’t know how he got in??? So I dont post much any longer

    • http://www.giveusyourpoor.org BluesGuitarist Montreville Blakely

      Dear Teresa, Hi there. I viewed your story about being exploited by your ex. I empathize with you upon that concern. Your Friends of Family List can usher your ex into your site, especially when they have friend someone on you Family or Friend List. You can talk to the Site Administrator and have them Kicked Off the Site/ i.e., FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube– if you feel harassed or threatened personally by this x of yours. Also, there is CyBer Police and FBI– if in fact he is stalking you on your personal media sites. The FBI calls this a “Social Domestic Issue” and takes threats seriously, especially estranged x’s who are stalking you. Guard yourself up and report this guy… before other forced immoral behaviors are acted out against you. I hope this has helped. You may want a restraining order in place to manage the situation if it seems to be crossing the line into stalking. be blessed and careful out there Teresa– thanks for asking for help… More people should be brave like you and ask for help when you are feeling threatened by anyone or thing. It will pass… but until then- manage it as I have said- before it gets out of control.

  • http://www.giveusyourpoor.org BluesGuitarist Montreville Blakely

    FaceBook is a tool… almost as Hot Like Apple’s Computer Founder and Creator/ Steve Jobs… the KEY is to Use it in a Kind Way. I have had many a Go Around with issues of posting in FaceBook, which led to misunderstanding on both our parts, but PRIVACY— Don’t make me laugh so early in the morning. Every Binary Code can be broken, and as of Windows95– all information is tracked and stored in Super Computers World-Wide. Anytime One Goes Online… You have a Panel of Viewer’s/ Companies, Strategically Assessing Your Links and Thoughts. FaceBook was First to hit the BIG TOP… creating within it a Marvel of Mass Media– Social Communication World-Wide. PRIVACY/? Every time you buy something and get a receipt with your name on it… They know the type of toilet-paper and magazines you use on a daily basis. It is pretty much all of the commercial enterprises that keep close watch on our consumption. By knowing our habits as consumers, they regulate their product! Thus, You are telegraphing all your wants and needs more than you know. Banking institutions get all the trends and inside stories– just about everyone is exploited by the exchange of goods and services– and FaceBook is both in exchange. So, be kind out there and limit your info on private if need be!

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