Senators call on Facebook to reverse privacy changes

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Four senators are calling on Facebook to recosider its decision to reveal users' personal information to third party websites - information that they were previously able to keep private.

Under new policies announced earlier this month, Facebook users must go through an elaborate opt-out process to keep private information from being shared with third party websites.

The company has also created a new system whereby 'interests' and other information listed on users' personal profiles are automatically aggregated and shared. Users previously had the option to keep this information private.

“People give these sites their personal information because they assume it will be used to connect them with their friends. But Facebook is taking its users' information, giving it to third parties, and letting them keep it indefinitely.  I'm asking Facebook to better protect its users data and make sure that users know who is getting it,” said senator Al Franken.
 
In their letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the senators said that this problem could be fixed by changing the current 'opt-out' policy to an 'opt-in' one, whereby the default setting would not allow users’ personal information to be shared with third party sites. 
 
Earlier this week, Senator Charles E Schumer asked the FTC to examine the privacy disclosures of social networking sites to ensure that they are not misleading or that they fail to fully disclose the extent to which they share information.

"The default policy should be one of privacy, and users should have to choose to share their information, not the other way around. We hope Facebook will take this simple step to make sure that no one’s personal information will be made public without them fully aware and consenting," said Schumer.