Sen. Charles Schumer's letter to the Federal Trade Commission requests that the agency establish guidelines for social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
Sen. Charles Schumer issued an open letter to the Federal Trade Commission
April 26 asking the agency to create guidelines governing what social networks
can do with information posted by users.
Schumer's letter follows Facebook's
release April 21
of new tools that share user information
between the social network and other Websites.
of millions of people
use social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace
and Twitter every day," Schumer said in a
"These sites have helped reconnect old friends, allowed
families from far away to stay in touch and created new friendships; overall
they provide a great new way to communicate.
"As these sites become more and more popular, however, it's vitally
important that safeguards are in place that provide users with control
over their personal information
to ensure they don't receive unwanted
solicitations," he continued. "At the same time, social networking
sites need to provide easy-to-understand disclosures to users on how
information they submit is being shared."
In addition to asking the FTC to establish guidelines, Schumer asked the commissioners
to examine social networks to make sure they are fully disclosing the
extent that user
information is shared.
"I am asking the FTC to use the authority given to it to examine
practices in the disclosure of private information from social networking sites
and to ensure [that] users have the ability to prohibit the sharing of personal
information," he said. "If the FTC feels it does not have the
authority to do so under current regulations I will support them in obtaining
the tools and authority to do just that" by proposing legislation.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company was caught off guard by the
"We were surprised by Sen. Schumer's comments and look forward to
sitting down with him and his staff to clarify," Facebook spokesperson
Andrew Noyes said in a statement.
"Last week, we announced several new products and features designed to
enhance personalization and promote social activity across the Web," Noyes
continued. "None of these changes removed or reduced people's control over
their information and several offered even greater controls."