Facebook’s taking more fire for recent changes that affect the privacy of the social-networking site’s users. Recently, several senators urged Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to simplify the site’s privacy controls. New York Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer called on the Federal Trade Commission “to examine the privacy disclosures of social networking sites to ensure they are not misleading or fail to fully disclose the extent to which they share information.” Germany’s data-protection officials have come out against Facebook’s changes.
Now, Facebook’s new “instant personalization” is being criticized by its former privacy chief, Chris Kelly, who is now running for attorney general of California.
That much-criticized [“instant personalization”] feature automatically shares users’ names, photos, friend lists and other information if they visit the sites of outside companies while logged in to Facebook. At launch the companies in the program were Microsoft Docs, Pandora and Yelp.
Users can opt out, but privacy advocates as well as lawmakers like Sen. Chuck Schumer have said that Facebook shouldn’t share people’s information with unrelated companies unless users explicitly consent.
Kelly indicates on his blog that he agrees with the critics. “I strongly encourage Facebook to structure all its programs to allow Facebook users to give permission before their information is shared with third parties,” Kelly writes. […]
Regardless, Kelly’s post indicates that Facebook’s privacy-hostile decisions have become a political liability. It also shows that Kelly is concerned that ordinary voters — and not just academics or “elitists” — care about their online privacy.