Monday, December 3, 2007

Editorial: Facebook move doesn't clear up privacy fears

During my 5 days absence a lot has happened in regards to the MoveOn versus Facebook clash. Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you heard the people won this round.

As MoveOn noted in a November 30th action alert, Facebook's "about face" is something we should all celebrate:

Big news! Last night, Facebook changed their policy and announced that no private purchases made on other websites would be displayed publicly on Facebook "without users proactively consenting." This is a huge victory for online privacy—and shows how regular people can band together to make a difference as the rules of the Internet get written.


The Washington Post, New York Times, and media outlets around the world cited the 50,000 Internet users who joined MoveOn's Facebook group and online petition as critical in getting Facebook to reconsider their policy. The New York Times called it a "mass protest" and London's Telegraph newspaper said we achieved "dramatic change."

But, before we pop the champaigne and declare the 29th of November to be "National Privacy Protection Day", check out this editorial by the San Jose Mercury News entitled "Facebook move doesn't clear up privacy fears".

As the editorial points out, this is only one part of a much larger struggle to protect ones personal information - particularly in cyberspace:

The backlash against Facebook last week is a lesson to all Internet companies: Tread more carefully with consumer privacy, even in this linked-in age.


But the issue of privacy in the Internet age doesn't stop there. Facebook fixed the notification feature, but it's still collecting the data. Web sites like Facebook and MySpace make it possible to share intimate details of our lives with online friends and contacts. That allows the sites themselves to collect troves of personal data, such as what movie we saw, what books we like and where we plan to go on vacation. And they can share that data with Internet marketers.


Despite Facebook's concession, the Center for Digital Democracy and other privacy groups plan to press the Federal Trade Commission to examine Internet marketing practices. It's time to look at updating the ground rules for marketing in the Internet age. Social networking sites have brought us into a new era of connectedness. But the basic expectation of privacy must not change.

Click here for the complete editorial...

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