Facebook privacy policy shift fires critics: "Approved Websites May Mine User + Friends"

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David Gelles:

Facebook on Friday announced another round of changes to its privacy policy, including amendments that could allow the site to share user information automatically with third-party websites.

Certain websites could soon be "pre-approved" by Facebook, so that if a user is logged into Facebook and then visits the third-party website, it would receive information including the "names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connections and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting" of a user and his or her friends.

The sites might be able to retain that information "to the extent permitted under their terms of service or privacy policies".

Facebook said it would introduce the feature with a small group of partners and offer new controls for users to opt out.

However, the company could face resistance by users and advocates who see such a move as another invasion of privacy.

Brokers and others have mused the mining potential of Facebook's data.

Gelles has written a followup article on Facebook's privacy issues:

For example, when Facebook users post a new piece of content, they can decide whether to share that with an individual, a group or the entire web.

Facebook's motives are not hard to grasp. By making more personal information publicly accessible, it is improving its ability to target users with highly-specified adverts. "They are pushing the envelope because it is in their financial best interest to do so," says Augie Ray, an analyst with Forrester Research.

However, Facebook - and the rest of the social networking industry - is facing the prospect of increased regulation in Europe and the US, its biggest markets.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim Zellmer published on April 16, 2010 10:11 AM.

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