Privacy Seems to Remain Facebook’s Biggest Problem

Being on Facebook always had its risks. You register, sign in and built yourself a pretty neat profile, but if you forget or are oblivious to making some adjustments to your privacy settings, you can be pretty sure that everybody might have access to your personal information and whatever you post on the site (ranging from pictures to the latest YouTube video).

After building up a pretty solid fan base of about 800 million users since the company has been created in 2004, the social network seems to be ready to accept the fact that it has a problem with privacy and bend the knee to the Federal Trade Commission, in the struggle to put an end to the claims of user rights violation.

Other companies shook hands with FTC too, in the not so distant past. For example, in March Google agreed to 20 years of privacy audits and other measures after some privacy issues aroused related to Buzz, its previous social network. It was the first time when FTC imposed such regulations.

“I expect that if there is any settlement it will be along the lines of the Google Buzz settlement, where the FTC expressed its view for what kind of accountability structure there should be and what kind of steps need to be taken whenever data practices change” said Jules Polonetsky of the Future of Privacy forum. Twitter, as well, agreed to establish a privacy program after a FTC investigation.

Facebook has been viciously attacked by users and privacy specialists alike especially for automatically signing people up for new features without actually asking them first. And FTC has been trying very hard to persuade Facebook to offer a wider range of privacy controls. A group of privacy advocacy organizations concerned with users not getting enough confidentiality, was responsible for bringing the issues to FTC’s attention, after the social network introduced new privacy settings back in 2009.

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