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Facebook Instant Personalization Feature Protested by Privacy Advocates

Facebook Instant Personalization Feature Protested by Privacy Advocates

Shane McGlaun

May 11, 2010

Facebook has found itself in hot water over the last few months with very public changes to its privacy policy that would result in more of a user’s personal information being shared with third-party websites. The backtracking on privacy for users of the site has raised the ire of more than one consumer watchdog group and some Senators as well.

Senator Schumer sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg raising concerns about the new security settings the site is adopting that allows access to personal information about users by third parties. Schumer is now being joined by the EFF and MoveOn.org in protesting the instant personalization feature that Facebook launched.

MoveOn.org has posted a Facebook Group page titled “Facebook Respect my Privacy.” The petition page seeks to get users to sign in protest to the new privacy settings. This sort of petition in the past has had success in getting Facebook to back track on proposed changes to privacy settings. The MoveOn petition before was against the Facebook “Beacon” social advertising program. Facebook opted to cancel the service before it was implemented in the face of more than 50,000 signatures to the petition.

The uproar over the new privacy settings has to do with the instant personalization tool Facebook has launched. Instant personalization is a tool that allows third-party websites to pull public information from Facebook and display it on their website to personalize the page. This information can include things like profile pictures and much more.

The EFF is also coming down against the instant personalization service with senior attorney Kurt Opsahl stating, “When it [Facebook] started, it was a private space for communication with a group of your choice. Soon, it transformed into a platform where much of your information is public by default. Today, it has become a platform where you have no choice but to make certain information public, and this public information may be shared by Facebook with its partner websites and used to target ads.”

The instant personalization program is still in beta status.

_© 2009, DailyTech.