Significant Facebook Features and Policies
Facebook has several features with a significant impact on privacy and security of personal information. These features raise issues of data collection, retention, distribution and control. The various privacy issues raised may in some cases have legal consequences.
Facebook does not permit the privacy enhancing techniques of pseudonymous logins or the creation of multiple profiles. Facebook’s terms require users to provide “accurate, current and complete” information when registering for the site. This means that a user must provide accurate information for their name, date of birth, and school and work affiliation. Facebook’s terms require users to agree not to “register for more than one User account, register for a User account on behalf of an individual other than yourself,” or “falsely state or otherwise misrepresent yourself, your age or your affiliation with any person or entity.” Users are thus forbidden from having several profiles for different social circles, such as for friends, professional colleagues, teachers and family. Users must have a single identity across all those social interactions. Since they must accurately give Facebook their name and date of birth, this single identity is required to be tied to their real life identity.
Facebook offers no way to conveniently delete one’s account once one has created a profile. Facebook does offer that an account can be “deactivated.” Once deactivated, Facebook says that a deactivated account cannot be seen or found by others:
Deactivation will completely remove your profile and all associated content on your account from Facebook. In addition, users will not be able to search for you or view any of your information. If you reactivate your account, your profile will be restored in its entirety (friends, photos, interests, etc.).
The feed was introduced in September 2006. When first introduced users had no control over what information was published to the Feed. Facebook users protested the privacy invasion, demanding control over their data. Facebook users were responding to the broadcast of their data, to Facebook making it more easily available. Seven hundred thousand users joined a group protesting the feed. Facebook users also created a petition to Facebook Administrators:
Whereas Facebook.com is a social networking Web site and utility owned as a private company started in February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg;
Whereas Facebook.com is a useful and entertaining tool for those on its networks;
Whereas the users on Facebook.com support the site’s stated philosophy of helping people spread information through social networks;
Whereas the users on Facebook.com understand the privacy settings and their role in protecting personal, private information;
Whereas drastic changes were make to Facebook.com on September 5, 2006, including the introduction of the “News Feed” and “Mini Feed” that call into question the safety and privacy of its more than 9 million users;
Whereas there has been an unprecedented outpouring of opposition to the changes within the community;
Whereas many users feel uncomfortable participating on Facebook.com because of the changes to the point that some have deactivated their accounts;
We, the Facebook.com user community:
–Encourage Facebook.com administrators to actively communicate and consult with users in a democratic dialogue concerning any current and future changes.
–Demand the immediate removal of the “news feed” and “mini feed” feature from Facebook.com.
–Allow an individual to remove himself or herself from the “news feed” and “mini feed” feature on other users’ page.
–Allow an individual to remove his or her own personal “news feed” and “mini feed” feature from his or her personal profile.
Facebook responded by creating some opt-outs for the feed, and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized on the Facebook blog. As Facebook’s Feed privacy page explains: “Stories are published when you edit your profile information, join a new network, or update your Status.” A user can opt out of other information being published to their feed, such as changes in relationship status or the addition of a friend.
Resources On Facebook Privacy
- EPIC Page on Social Networking Privacy.
- AllFacebook Blog.
- Inside Facebook. Tracking Facebook and the Facebook Platform.
- Facebook Blog. The official Facebook Blog.
- Privacy Protection for Social Networking APIs. Reviews 150 Facebook applications, and compares how much data they need vs. how much they have access to.
- Security Issues and Recommendations for Online Social Networks (pdf). A report from the the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA).
- Social Network Sites and Privacy (pdf). A presentation by Marc Rotenberg, EPIC executive director. Delivered at the University of Maryland, October 18, 2006.
- Wikipedia Page on Facebook.
- An EPIC Lawsuit, The Hill, April 24, 2018
- Digital counter surveillance for all audiences, La Vanguardia (Spain), April 24, 2018
- ‘Facebook’s privacy controls are sufficient, “said audit in 2017, Estadao Link, April 24, 2018
- Facebook’s hand-picked watchdogs gave it high marks for privacy even as the tech giant lost control of users’ data, Washington Post, April 24, 2018
- Senator Wants Fines, Tighter Leash On Facebook By FTC, Law360, April 23, 2018
Facebook Privacy doesn’t have a phone number. Like a growing number of companies with free web-based services, you have to search forums and support sites for help. But you can get an instant customer support by calling us at our customer service phone number USA +1-877-221-0648 UK + 44-XXX-XXX-XXXX Toll Free.
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