May 132010
 May 13, 2010  Posted by  Featured News, Online

Facebook’s privacy concerns and backlash are becoming daily staples of privacy news. Here’s a small roundup of some coverage today:

Nick Bilton reports:

Pop quiz: Which is longer, the United States Constitution or Facebook’s Privacy Policy?

If you guessed the latter, you’re right. Facebook’s Privacy Policy is 5,830 words long; the United States Constitution, without any of its amendments, is a concise 4,543 words.


The new opt-out settings certainly are complex. Facebook users who hope to make their personal information private should be prepared to spend a lot of time pressing a lot of buttons. To opt out of full disclosure of most information, it is necessary to click through more than 50 privacy buttons, which then require choosing among a total of more than 170 options.

Read more in The New York Times, and take a look at the related graphic.

Is it any surprise that “How do I delete my Facebook account?” is one of the most common “How do I…” questions in Google Search, as ReadWriteWeb reports? Or that Facebook is reportedly holding a big meeting on privacy today? As Sam Diaz blogs on ZDnet:

The internal meeting comes two days after Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s VP for public policy, conducted a written Q&A from New York Times readers on the Bits blog. The post featured some pretty frank questions from readers who clearly see a financial motive for Facebook increasingly pushing the limits with revisions to its privacy policy.

More importantly, the exec was asked a simple question about why everything is set up for opt-out instead of opt-in, forcing people to go into the settings to re-adjust their privacy controls. Schrage’s answer, while truthful and honest, was also borderline arrogant – something that could hurt the company if readers (like me) perceive that to be taken in a “you don’t have to be a member if you don’t like our rules” kind of way. His short answer: “Everything is opt-in on Facebook. Participating in the service is a choice.”

If you missed EFF’s write-up on how Facebook privacy policy has devolved over the years, you can read it here. And do see Matt McKeon‘s animated visualization of the “Evolution of Privacy on Facebook.”

See also the The Article 29 Working Group press release.

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