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Facebook Privacy Policy Controls Change (Again)

On December 12, 2012, the world's largest social network (again) changed its privacy policy controls via a massive overhaul to Facebook. The changes include new privacy tools allowing users of the site to select which of your friends and other subscribers can view personal info, updates, and uploaded photos. Additionally, today's changes address issues regarding personal data recorded by the Activity Log and information accessed and published by apps. The most debatable issue among the privacy policy updates is users now may search the Facebook database for other users without the option to hide their profiles.

The privacy updates follow a seven day long vote regarding the privacy updates in which only 30% of users responded. Of the 668,872 voters, 589,141 opposed changes to the privacy policy yet the social network opted to adopt the new Data Use Policy as part of its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Developers insist the new policy is more user friendly and better helps advertisers or other affiliates target users preferences.

In an attempt to draw public attention to the privacy changes and voting mechanism, nonprofit group Electronic Privacy Information Center targeted Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an open letter. The group stated "Although Facebook's existing voting mechanism set an unreasonably high participation threshold, scrapping the mechanism altogether raises questions about Facebook's willingness to take seriously the participation of Facebook users." The group is dedicated to exposing First Amendment infringement, civil liberties issues, and privacy concerns.

Many others also pan the privacy changes indicating the move to make users more searchable eliminates their right to obscurity. Some, like Jeffrey Chester of the Center For Digital Democracy, suggest the changes instilled today breach the privacy settlement terms reached between Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission. In a recent interview, Chester suggested: "Facebook's vision of its member base is a bunch of people naked, exposed, and targeted at will by anyone who wants to do so. We are going to urge the commission to look at this closely."

In the wake of the new changes, it is in users' best interest to closely monitor and maintain extreme care with the information they post, share, and upload.

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