Privacy groups ask Facebook to back off privacy changes

Facebook wants to remove the ability for users to vote on modifications to data usage and privacy policies

By Ian Paul, PC World |  Security, Facebook, privacy

The Center for Digital Democracy and the Electronic Privacy Information Center say that even though Facebook's voting requirements set an "unreasonably high participation threshold" at least the right to vote was in place. Dumping the vote "raises questions about Facebook's willingness to take seriously the participation of Facebook users," the two groups said. If Facebook does dump the vote it would be particularly damaging for the privacy information center; the group was instrumental in getting Facebook to reverse a set of privacy changes in 2009 that resulted in Facebook instituting the site governance vote for users.

Filtering Facebook's message

Facebook also wants to remove the "Who can send you Facebook messages?" control that lets you decide who can contact you on Facebook. The setting is currently buried in your privacy settings under "How You Connect." The messages setting would be replaced by what Facebook calls "filters for managing incoming messages." The Center for Digital Democracy and the Electronic Privacy Information Center are concerned that changes to Facebook Messages could result in users receiving more spam, a popular method of attack for malware on Facebook. It's not clear whether Facebook's new messaging filters would be part of the newly revamped Facebook Messages window or if the changes would be part of your privacy settings.

Instagram affiliation

Facebook also wants the ability to share user information with "businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Facebook is part of." These businesses would be referred to as "Affiliates" and would most certainly include Instagram, the popular photo-sharing service Facebook acquired in 2012, which currently operates independently from Facebook.

The Center for Digital Democracy and the Electronic Privacy Information Center believe the "affiliates" designation in Facebook's data use policy is an attempt to merge user data between Facebook and Instagram. The groups argue merging user data could violate Facebook's recent privacy settlement with the Federal Trade Commission . Facebook's FTC agreement requires that the social network obtain users' express consent before sharing their data beyond what their privacy settings allow.

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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