Facebook Takes a Shot at Privacy

According to a new survey released by the Pew Research Center this morning, Internet users are far more concerned about protecting their personal information from hackers, advertisers, friends and family than from the government. This comes a week after Facebook proposed a new privacy policy that has been under a lot of controversy. So much controversy, in fact, that yesterday six major consumer privacy groups sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking them to block the change.

Shot up PrivacyThe new policy states, “You give us permission to use your name, and profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us…If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.”

What this seems to mean is that Facebook can use your name and images for commercial purposes unless you explicitly opt out. Good luck doing that though, since Facebook removed the direct link to that control setting.

What is even more shocking is their language regarding people under the age of 18. Facebook’s policy says “you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) on your behalf.”

The last time I checked, someone under 18 can’t represent that, which is why they need their parent or legal guardian to represent that for them. Legally speaking, the personal information of children is supposed to receive special privacy protection.

Facebook released a statement that they’re not changing their practices or policies, they just changed the language to make it clearer. According to the Internet survey done by Pew Research and comments on the proposed policy page, this is exactly the kind of thing that Internet users are concerned about.

So what do you think? Is it a big deal, or is privacy on the Internet dead anyhow?