The social networking giant says it will expand access to the personal information it's collected on its 845 million users, a move that may not quiet many critics.
Facebook officials, looking to quell
ongoing concerns over the amount of personal information they store as the
company draws nearer to its expected initial public offering, said they will
let their more than 845 million users access more data about themselves.
After privacy concerns were raised,
Facebook in October 2010 let users download some information about themselves
that the giant social networking company had collected, including wall posts,
messages, photos and videos theyd shared on Facebook; chats; and the names and
email addresses of friends.
In an April 12 blot post on the Facebook site, company
officials say they are now expanding the kinds of personal information users
Starting today, you will be able to
download an expanded archive of your Facebook account history, they said in
the post. Now you can access additional categories of information, including
previous names, friend requests you've made and IP addresses you logged in
Facebook officials said the expanded
feature will be rolling out gradually to all users and that categories of
information will become available for download in the future. Users can access
their information through the Download Your Information from their Facebook
As of late afternoon ET April 12, there
were almost 500 submissions in the Comment section after the post, and while
many were pleased with Facebooks move, others questioned why the company had
to keep all of the personal information at all, and urged the company to delete
Whats sad about this is that they
actually had and still have all that information, one commenter said.
[D]elete, delete, delete is what I say do with it.
The move also drew a negative reaction
from those running the Europe-v.-Facebook.org Website, which was created last
year after an Austrian citizen24-year-old law student Max Schremswho asked to
see his Facebook file was surprised about the amount of data the company had
collected on him. He filed a slew of privacy complaints with the Irish Data
Protection Commission, which deals with Facebook-related issues in Europe. The
commission in December 2011 ordered Facebook to be more transparent regarding
Facebook keeps fooling its users, the
Europe-v.-Facebook group wrote in a blog. Instead of handing out a
one-on-one copy of all 84 data categories Facebook is holding about every user,
we will only get to see a fraction of this information. Many data categories
are going to be not in the download tool but spread all over the webpage. This
means that users have to hunt for it by digging through the timeline, the
activity log and other sorts of pages.
The group is demanding that Facebook
give up all the user data it has collected, and is urging users who are
dissatisfied to complain to the Irish commission and the European Commission,
the enforcement arm of the European Union (EU).
Facebook and other tech companies that
collect vast amounts of personal data from their userssuch as Google and
Applehave been under fire in recent years for their handling of the
information, which is often used by advertisers to create more personalized ads
targeted at the users.
The issue has gained attention from both
consumer advocacy groups and government agencies, in the United States and
Europe. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission last month released a report calling on a combination of
federal laws and self-policing among the tech companies to protect user online
privacy. Facebook has been a key target of criticism, though more recently,
Apple and Google have come under fire for enabling iPhones and Android-based
smartphones to share personal datasuch as photos and contactswith mobile apps
that are downloaded onto the devices.
EU officials also are looking at
updating its privacy laws.