The ACLU and other groups propose a six-point plan for Facebook to follow to improve its privacy and security controls. But the social networking site appears unmoved, issuing a point-by-point refutation of the plan.
Facebook's privacy battles are not over at all. In an open
letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg,
(PDF) privacy advocates June 16
released a six-point plan for the social network to follow to give users more
control over the sharing of their information.
For the moment, Facebook
does not appear to be budging
, but said it was open to continuing a
dialogue about privacy.
"Facebook won widespread praise from users around the world and the
privacy community last month for introducing simpler and more powerful
controls for sharing personal information,
" Facebook spokesperson
Andrew Noyes told eWEEK. "We plan to continue to make control easy and
effective for all the people who use our service and will continue to engage
these groups and others in a constructive dialogue about these important
In the letter, the Electronic Privacy
the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and several other
groups acknowledged Facebook's recent improvements, but contended
that additional steps
are needed to "demonstrate [Facebook's]
commitment to the principle of giving users control over how and with whom they
Chief among the concerns aired in the letter was what the groups called the
"app gap," which the letter said needs to be addressed by
"empowering users to decide exactly which applications can access their
Expanding on this term, the letter said, "Facebook's latest changes
allow users a 'nuclear option' to opt out of applications entirely. While this
is an important setting, it is not adequate for meaningful control. Facebook
users should also have the option to choose to share information only with
In a point-by-point
to the groups' letter, Noyes countered that a plan for a new data
permission model was announced in summer 2009, and "the product is
scheduled to launch to all developers in the coming weeks."
The groups also asked Facebook to, "Make 'instant personalization'
opt-in by default." The feature was at the center of the firestorm of
controversy a few weeks ago, as concerns were raised regarding user information
being shared with third-party sites.
"The only information the three partners currently in the program
receive from Facebook is users' public information," Noyes countered.
"This means that our partners cannot access anything other than the same
information that anyone could access simply by going to a Facebook user's
He added, "In addition, we've made it easier for people to turn off the
instant personalization pilot program, which prevents those, and any future,
applications in the program from accessing their information. We have also
imposed restrictions on how partners can use the information they receive from
Facebook. That information cannot be sold or shared with others or used in any
way other than to improve the experience of Facebook users visiting their