For the past several years, Facebook has been on a persistent public relations offensive to win back users who may be spooked by the site’s privacy policies. One recent example saw a prominent Facebook executive claiming to a UK website that Facebook is not only not harmful to user privacy, but actually actively helpful.
“I would define Facebook as a privacy-enhancing technology. It’s about putting people at the center of an experience that they can manage and control,” said Erin Egan, a Facebook Vice President and the site’s chief privacy officer. “I could take a photo of a bunch of people and put it on the Internet and nobody would know it. Tag suggestion asks the person who uploads the photo to tag their friends, that gives their friends notice that that photo is there. Then you can take control because you can ask the person to remove the photo… Knowledge is power.”
Egan also sought to clarify some common misconceptions about Facebook, pointing out that the site does not sell user data to third parties but instead provides advertisers with “aggregated information” that leaves out users’ identifying features.
Of course, with all of Facebook’s myriad problems regarding privacy, its assertion that it is actually helping protect users will likely ring false to many.