Facebook privacy policy under fire by US Senator

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

US Senator Charles "Chuck" Schumer has harshly criticized Facebook's recent decision to share private information with third-party websites.

"[The] recent changes by Facebook fundamentally change the relationship between the user and the social networking site. Previously, users had the ability to determine what information they chose to share and what information they wanted to keep private," explained an irate Schumer.

Facebook privacy policy under fire by US Senator"[However], the policy changes are fundamentally changing that relationship and there is little guidance on what social networking sites can and cannot do and what disclosures are necessary to consumers."

According to Schumer, user must now go through a "complicated and confusing opt-out process" to keep private information from being shared with third party websites.

"[In addition], Facebook has created a new system whereby 'interests' listed by users on their personal profiles are automatically aggregated and shared as massive web pages," said Schumer.

"Users used to have the ability to keep this information private if they chose. These new common interest pages are a gold mine of marketing data that could use by used for spam and potentially scammers, intent on peddling their wares."

Schumer also urged the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to provide detailed guidelines for social networking sites - such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter - on how private information can be appropriately used and disseminated. 

"If the FTC feels it does not have the authority to do so under current regulations I will support them in obtaining the tools and authority to do just that."