Open letter attacks Facebook privacy

Letter writing

Facebook privacy concerns continue to rise to the surface of the social networking site's pool this summer.

A collaboration of 10 advocacy groups, including the Centre for Digital Democracy, wrote an open letter to Facebook's chief executive (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg this week addressing specific areas they wanted changed.

In the letter, the groups said they were pleased with the efforts Facebook made in past weeks involving outstanding privacy issues, but called for more action.

"We are writing to urge you to continue to demonstrate your commitment to the principle of giving users control over how and with whom they share," they wrote.

In the letter, the groups asked to Facebook to make these adjustments:

1) Fix the "app gap" by empowering users to decide exactly which applications can access their personal information.

2) Make "instant personalisation" opt-in by default.

3) Do not retain data about specific visitors to third party sites that incorporate "social plugins" or the "like" button, unless the site visitor chooses to interact with those tools.

4) Provide users with control over every piece of information they can share via Facebook, including their name, gender, profile picture, and networks.

5) Protect Facebook users from other threats by using an HTTPS connection for all interactions by default.

6) Provide users with simple tools for exporting their uploaded content and the details of their social network so users who want to leave for another social network service do not have to choose between safeguarding their privacy and staying connected to their friends.

However, the conversation about Facebook privacy issues is not new. IT PRO covered a similar story in 2009 about the "sharing culture" of sites like Facebook.

User control was the main priority then as well, with concerns over posted photos on Facebook users' profile pages not being deleted from the Facebook servers, with the idea that Facebook owned the photos.

More recently, the new Facebook and Privacy Page was announced this month in order to help users better understand which privacy settings fit them best.

Simon Axten from Facebook said in its official blog that along with video tutorials and a privacy guide, the page will be a place of discussion about privacy.

"We'll regularly post updates on relevant new content, products and news stories related to online privacy," Axten said.