Facebook caves to pressure from Canada and agrees to add more controls to protect user privacy. The social network also promises to include the reasons for collecting date of birth information and account memorialization for deceased users, as well as information on how its advertising programs work. New technical changes will be designed to give people more control over the information they provide to third-party applications such as games.
Facebook on Aug. 27 bowed to pressure from Canada
and pledged to add more controls to protect user privacy.
This includes making it clear how users may delete their Facebook accounts,
which zaps user profile data from the company's servers, instead of just
deactivating the accounts, which means the data is put on standby in case users
want to access it again.
Facebook, which has grown to more than 250 million users and has come under
fire for its privacy practices since it entered the limelight in 2007, promised
to include the reasons for collecting date of birth information and account
memorialization for deceased users, as well as information on how its
advertising programs work.
The social network also vowed to protect non-Facebook members and to create
a better notification process to help users become more aware of privacy
settings so that they match users' privacy preferences.
Finally, new technical changes
will be designed to give people more control
over the information they provide to third-party applications, such as games.
For example, Facebook will introduce a new permissions model that will require
applications to specify the information they wish to access
and obtain express
consent from the user before any data is shared. The user will also have to
approve any access to their friends' information, which would be subject to the
friends' privacy and application settings.
Facebook said in a statement
this move alleviates the Canadian
Privacy Commissioner's concerns that the sharing of personal information with
third-party developers of Facebook applications raises privacy risks for Canada's
12 million Facebook users.
Facebook said the planned changes will begin immediately, though updates to
Moreover, Facebook said the changes to how users share information
third-party applications will take as much as a year to implement because
Facebook will have to update its platform API
and give developers time to reprogram and test their applications.
The changes come more than a month after Canada Privacy
Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and her office ruled that Facebook breached
Canadian privacy laws.
July 1 streamlined its privacy options
and made it easier for users
to share their content with everyone. Bloggers argued that the privacy changes would improve Facebook's advertising
as it seeks to compete with Twitter, Google and Microsoft.
Stoddart remained dissatisfied by Facebook's response at the end of the
investigation, so Facebook went back to the bargaining table. The commissioner
reviewed Facebook's revised proposals and is satisfied with the commitments
Facebook has made.
"These changes mean that the privacy of 200 million Facebook users in Canada
and around the world will be far better protected," Stoddart
said in a statement
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