U.S. senators raise Facebook privacy concerns

Four Democratic senators have raised concerns over Facebook's privacy controls in a letter due to be sent to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The Associated Press received a draft of the letter due to be sent out which was signed by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). 

Facebook's announcement offering a like button and its other projects to expand over the internet raise "new concerns for users who want to maintain control over their information," the draft letter read. 

Schumer himself has also recently sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission telling the regulators to create clear privacy guidelines for Facebook and other social networking sites to abide by. Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes responded saying the company hoped to meet with Schumer to explain its privacy policies. 

Some of the senators' privacy concerns are:

  • Other businesses can store users' data for over 24hrs.
  • Users' accounts can have their information published on outside websites without the user "opting in".

The current system requires Facebook users to opt-out of allowing Facebook to share their data with other websites. Facebook has continuously had issues regarding its privacy policies in the past and in some cases has consulted with its users directly to try resolve them.

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22 Comments

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Island Dog said,
Remove your account, simple as that. No need for government involvement even more. You are not forced to use FB.

I totally agree but if its the case that FB isn't being up front or honest about what privacy you can (or can't) expect from the system then someone needs to step in.

C_Guy said,
I totally agree but if its the case that FB isn't being up front or honest about what privacy you can (or can't) expect from the system then someone needs to step in.

+1. Their "privacy controls" are completely inconsistent and change far too often. I don't want every single person on my friends list to know when I click "like" to someone's status or photo or whatever... I want THAT PERSON to know. But there is absolutely no way (that I can find) to prevent the world from seeing those actions. It's gotten so bad that every day I move closer to just deleting my account... unfortunately it's the only way to really keep in touch with everybody I know.

vaximily said,

+1. Their "privacy controls" are completely inconsistent and change far too often. I don't want every single person on my friends list to know when I click "like" to someone's status or photo or whatever... I want THAT PERSON to know. But there is absolutely no way (that I can find) to prevent the world from seeing those actions. It's gotten so bad that every day I move closer to just deleting my account... unfortunately it's the only way to really keep in touch with everybody I know.

You can choose to just use it as a directory. I'm with you vax. The privacy concerns bother me and I would like to limit who sees what I do and when. At the same time, I just need to stop clicking "like" buttons, stop making status updates, and stop commenting on others. Nobody is forcing me to do these things, and if I'm unsure about what is "out there" and what isn't, then I can choose not to put anything "out there".

But as a directory, Facebook is hard to beat. Just about everyone I know and most people I've met have a Facebook page.

Shadrack said,
You can choose to just use it as a directory. I'm with you vax. The privacy concerns bother me and I would like to limit who sees what I do and when. At the same time, I just need to stop clicking "like" buttons, stop making status updates, and stop commenting on others. Nobody is forcing me to do these things, and if I'm unsure about what is "out there" and what isn't, then I can choose not to put anything "out there".

That's true, but Facebook also changes its privacy options far too often and changes things that were once opt-in, to opt-out (and defaulting everyone to opt-out regardless of previous settings). It's the defaulting that is the problem. If they would only assume privacy first (even if it's just "Only Friends"), then Facebook would be awesome. Instead, every week I log in to find another banner telling me how they are helping me out by releasing more details that I never wanted released.


Shame on me for posting it in the first place? Maybe. Shame on them for keeping it private until people became attached? Definitely.


I am probably one or two more privacy tweaks away from closing my Facebook page down. Like you, I use it as a directory, but I have never been big on liking, updating or commenting on Facebook--yet I am still losing more and more details as the days go by.

Shadrack said,
But as a directory, Facebook is hard to beat. Just about everyone I know and most people I've met have a Facebook page.
Very true, and very unfortunate due to the above.

Edited by pickypg, Apr 27 2010, 5:56pm : Fixing spacing issues (double blanks for paragraph separator)

Shadrack and Pickypg... want to start up a more privatized facebook with me? HAHA. I've been thinking about it for years... have it be relatively open for signups and usage, but very locked down on what information is shared with whom. I'd need someone that has more PHP / MySQL experience than I do though.

Hurricane Andrew said,
They need to mind their own business instead of playing nanny to everyone and everything.

That's the whole problem with Democrats, they don't know how NOT to act like nannies. They have this attitude that they are smarter than everyone else, and therefore they believe that they need to protect everyone else from hurting themselves.

roadwarrior said,

That's the whole problem with Democrats, they don't know how NOT to act like nannies. They have this attitude that they are smarter than everyone else, and therefore they believe that they need to protect everyone else from hurting themselves.

YES YES YES! Democrats act like nannys and cater to the dumb
democrats and liberals are ruining America...

Edited by bguy_1986, Apr 27 2010, 4:07pm :

roadwarrior said,
That's the whole problem with Democrats, they don't know how NOT to act like nannies. They have this attitude that they are smarter than everyone else, and therefore they believe that they need to protect everyone else from hurting themselves.


That's the whole problem with Republicans, they don't know how to stand up to an overly big-brother government and say NO to having their freedoms chipped away at day by day via "CCTV" in every store in the country, "traffic cameras" on every block, etc.


For the record, I associate myself with neither party as they are BOTH the root cause of most of what's wrong with this country right now.

Edited by SkinAddict, Apr 27 2010, 4:46pm :

vaximily said,


That's the whole problem with Republicans, they don't know how to stand up to an overly big-brother government and say NO to having their freedoms chipped away at day by day via "CCTV" in every store in the country, "traffic cameras" on every block, etc.


For the record, I associate myself with neither party as they are BOTH the root cause of most of what's wrong with this country right now.


I disagree. I think the republicans know that. But you also have the liberal republicans, and also a lot of independents that are pretty uneducated. And to add to that, when you have the president targeting the young, stupid, and certian races with his propaganda, it's hard to change their minds...

vaximily said,

That's the whole problem with Republicans, they don't know how to stand up to an overly big-brother government and say NO to having their freedoms chipped away at day by day via "CCTV" in every store in the country, "traffic cameras" on every block, etc.

Well, to be fair, people in my city (Jackson, MS) actually did manage to get the government to rid us of traffic cameras. CCTV in stores has nothing at all to do with government, so I'm not sure what you mean there.

bguy_1986 said,
I disagree. I think the republicans know that. But you also have the liberal republicans, and also a lot of independents that are pretty uneducated. And to add to that, when you have the president targeting the young, stupid, and certian races with his propaganda, it's hard to change their minds...

I'm not sure where you're going here... you disagree with what? You sound like the same group that I was talking about - hardcore republican that's too blind to see that your own comments make absolute no sense whatsoever.

roadwarrior said,
Well, to be fair, people in my city (Jackson, MS) actually did manage to get the government to rid us of traffic cameras. CCTV in stores has nothing at all to do with government, so I'm not sure what you mean there.

I had CCTV in quotes for a reason... very few of them are actually closed circuit and are easily accessible by the government.

roadwarrior said,

That's the whole problem with Democrats, they don't know how NOT to act like nannies.

The reason this bill was sponsored by Democrats is because the average Republican doesn't even know how to use a computer.

(I am not a Democrat. Tell John McCain to get some computer lessons.)

etempest said,
An OptIn by default policy vs OptOut policy would or probably saved them this headache.

I agree. I just noticed the other day that I had to "Opt Out" of having advertisements on other's Facebook say that I like those advertisements. WTH? That really ****ed me off.