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Facebook comes out fighting on privacy


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Handbags at dawn


Facebook is
fighting back against a high-profile electronic privacy group which filed a federal complaint against it. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook's recent changes to its users' privacy options.

"These changes violate user expectations, diminish user privacy, and contradict Facebook's own representations," EPIC's complaint (PDF) alleges.

EPIC is backed by the Centre for Digital Democracy, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and seven other advocacy organisations. They are moaning about Facebook's newly "public" treatment of such data as users' names, genders, cities, and profile photos. EPIC points out, this information is now disclosed to search engines as well as to third-party Facebook applications. Normally such complaints are dealt with fairly quietly, but Facebook has taken the unusual step of fighting back.

It has said that it's already spoken with the FTC and other regulators about the changes. A representative from the company notes that the revised privacy policy also adds a series of more detailed options for users, including the ability to specify different settings for every photo, link, or status update posted onto the social network.

Not only that, Facebook has spoken to dozens of organizations around the world about the recent changes. However EPIC went straight to the FTC while refusing to talk to it about its worries.
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