Media Money with Julia Boorstin

Facebook's Privacy Battle

Facebook recently launched new privacy settings, giving users new ways to regulate which of their posts and photos can be seen by whom. Facebook also allows its users to make all their updates public — like Twitter "Tweets" — so they're searchable on the web. These changes are attracting criticism and debate.

Today ten privacy organizations — led by Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint against Facebook to the FTC. The organization asked the FTC to require Facebook to restore settings that allowed people to decide whether to make information like their name and current city public.

A Facebook spokesman released the below statement, noting that it discussed its privacy program with the FTC, and pointing out that the privacy community is not united behind EPIC — that several leading privacy advocates aren't on the list.

It's in Facebook's best interest to protect its 350 million users' privacy — making users feel anxious about their safety. And Facebook has also done a good job of assuaging the concerns of groups complaining about Facebook's control over user data. Facebook asked its users to contribute their requests for terms of service, which management then compiled; then users could vote on the new policies.

As you see in the statement tomorrow, Facebook's going to continue to defend itself. I'm sure the social network will continue it's conversations with the FTC and other leaders in the space -- it's not worth giving its users any reason for concern.

Facebook's Statement:

We’ve had productive discussions with dozens of organizations around the world about the recent changes and we’re disappointed that EPIC has chosen to share their concerns with the FTC while refusing to talk to us about them.

Facebook's plan to provide users control over their privacy and how they share content is unprecedented in the Internet age. We have gone to great lengths to inform users about our platform changes, beginning with our July announcement; founder Mark Zuckerberg’s open letter to our 350 million users; our robust press and analyst outreach; the notice-and-comment framework for our new privacy policy; and simple customization tools for users.

We’re pleased that so many users have already gone through the process of reviewing and updating their privacy settings and are impressed that so many have chosen to customize their settings, demonstrating the effectiveness of Facebook’s user empowerment and transparency efforts. Of course, the new tools offer users the opportunity to decide on privacy with every photo, link or status update they wish to post, so the process of personalizing privacy on Facebook will continue.

We discussed the privacy program with many regulators, including the FTC, prior to launch and expect to continue to work with them in the future.”

Questions?  Comments?