US Senator wants FTC to regulate privacy on Facebook, other social networks


Like many of us, US Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) was none too pleased about Facebook's recent changes to how user data is shared with third-party companies (and made searchable online).

But the senator announced today that he believes social network privacy is a task for the Federal Trade Commission to tackle with Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and all other online social networking services:

A press release from Schumer's office announced that he has written to the FTC to ask that the agency "examine the privacy disclosures of social-networking sites to ensure they are not misleading or fail to fully disclose the extent to which they share information…(and) provide guidelines for use of private information and prohibit access without user permission."

More at CNET, and here's the press release from Schumer's office. Snip:

These 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. Recent 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.

Under new policies, users must go through a complicated and confusing opt-out process to keep private information from being shared with third party websites. Additionally, Facebook has also created a new system whereby 'interests' listed by users on their personal profiles are automatically aggregated and shared as massive web pages. 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.