European Report Takes Facebook to Task

facebook_bubbleFor as much trouble as Facebook gets in here in the United States, it finds itself embroiled in many more controversies in Europe. The latest came this week when the Belgian Data Protection Authority commissioned a report that slammed the site’s data policies and terms of use.

The report, written by a group of Belgian academics, will be used by the Belgian Privacy Commission in an investigation it recently launched against Facebook. The report raised concerns that Facebook has too much power to collect its users’ data, and that user information is implemented without their knowledge for advertising purposes.

“Any ‘like’ may become a trigger to portray a user in a ‘Sponsored Story’ or Social Ad. From the latter one can opt-out, but the only way to stop appearing in Sponsored Stories, is by stopping to ‘like’ content altogether,” the report said. “Users are even more disempowered because they are unaware about how exactly their data is used for advertising purposes.”

The report also said that Facebook gives users a false sense of control over their privacy with its recently simplified and enhanced controls, when in reality the site is actually growing the scope of information it gathers. It also called out the site for not providing opt-out features for Sponsored Stories.