Last week Facebook announced that it wanted to do away with its the current process where Facebook users could vote on proposed privacy and usage policy changes. On Tuesday two privacy organizations sent Facebook a letter explaining why Facebook’s new plan was not a good idea.
The letter addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is signed by Marc Rotenberg, President, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Jeffrey Chester, President, Center for Digital Democracy Center for Digital Democracy (CDT).
The letter reminds Zuckerberg of Facebook’s settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The letter is carbon copied to the chairman and commissioners of the FTC, as well as key members of the US Congress.
Back in August Facebook agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that requires Facebook to give consumers “clear and prominent notice and obtaining their express consent before sharing their information beyond their privacy settings.”
The agreement was in response to charges that Facebook deceived their users by telling them they could keep their information private and then allowed it to be shared.
Selling out privacy for profits
Many see the changes proposed by Facebook as part of a marketing plan that is more worried about profits than privacy. Granted, Facebook is a business with a goal of making a profit. Zuckerburg may stand on his noble soap box and proclaim, “helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life,” but the bottom-line, as in profits, is the new goal of Facebook.
Earlier this year they began to throttle the feeds from Facebook fan pages and then offered promoted posts as a way to sell the access to more of your fans.
Now Facebook wants to limit your rights to who can connect with you so they have another way to sell advertising. As the privacy groups explain in their letter, removing the ability to prevent strangers from sending unwanted messages will likely increase the amount of unsolicited messages that users receive. These unsolicited messages are new potential advertising revenue for Facebook.
Facebook started as a community with members. Little by little Facebook is changing the terms and conditions of their social network in the name of profits and turning away from the community run for the benefit of its members and moving towards the business run for the benefit of their shareholders.
Facebook has the right to change things as they see fit in running their business for the benefit of their shareholders. Facebook also has the obligation to protect the personal data of its members as well as comply with their agreement with the FTC.
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