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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Note to Facebook on Privacy: How About Opt-In, Not Opt Out?

Staring down a storm of criticism around privacy issues on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised today to give users an easy way to opt out of third-party services. Probably, though, most users would be a lot happier if Facebook came up with a simple approach to opting into those services, rather than out of them.

Public outcries over unwanted visibility of users’ Facebook information has reached the halls of Congress, spurring U.S. Senator Charles Schumer to release an open letter last month asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to produce privacy guidelines for all social networking sites, including Twitter and MySpace, for example, along with Facebook, as well as to keep a close eye on compliance.

Facebook’s existing controls are complicated. In fact, Facebook currently has something like 170 different privacy options and 50 privacy settings.

In an informal poll conducted by Internet security firm Sophos, 60 percent of 1,588 Facebook users said either that they’d “possibly” leave Facebook because of privacy concerns, or that they were “highly likely” to do so, while 16 percent said they’d already canceled their Facebook accounts.

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