Privacy Groups Ask FTC to Stop Facebook Policy Changes

facebook-privacy-200Last week, Facebook proposed a series of sweeping changes to its policies regarding user data, changing the language to clarify the amount of control Facebook has over the information on its pages that users make public. However, six major consumer privacy advocacy groups sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday urging them to block Facebook’s policy changes.

“Facebook users who reasonably believed that their images and content would not be used for commercial purposes without their consent will now find their pictures showing up on the pages of their friends endorsing the products of Facebook’s advertisers,” the groups wrote in their letter. “Remarkably, their images could even be used by Facebook to endorse products that the user does not like or even use.”

“Facebook is now claiming the default setting is they can use everyone’s name and image for advertising and commercial purposes, including those of minors, without their consent,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, in The New York Times. “Red lights are going off in the privacy world.”

Though Facebook intended the changes to merely clarify the policies it already practiced, it’s now apparent that seeing the site’s views on privacy in plain black and white language has angered many. The FTC hasn’t yet announced what actions, if any, it plans to take resulting from the letter, though it’s unlikely that these consumer privacy groups will allow Facebook to implement the new policy language without a fight.

In response to the push back from privacy groups, Facebook issued a statement yesterday, “We are taking the time to ensure that user comments are reviewed and taken into consideration to determine whether further updates are necessary and we expect to finalize the process in the coming week.” This was published by the Los Angeles Times and Politico.