Privacy Watchdog Group Files Complaint Against Facebook: They “Messed With People’s Minds”

facebook-newsfeed-featured A privacy watchdog group today filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission claiming that Facebook "purposefully messed with people's minds" with its psychological research in 2012. The Electronic Privacy Information Center charged that the research study -- which manipulated the News Feeds of nearly 700,000 Facebook users to study their emotions -- was a deceptive trade practice and violated an FTC privacy consent order. EPIC is seeking sanctions, including forcing Facebook to make public its News Feed algorithm. "At the time of the experiment, Facebook did not state [...]


Was Facebook’s “Mood Experiment” Partly About User Retention?

facebook-newsfeed-featured If you've been online in the past 72 hours you're probably aware of the controversy surrounding a piece of 2012 research conducted on Facebook by researchers from Facebook, the University of California and Cornell. The research sought to investigate the phenomenon of "emotional contagion" on a massive scale. Since the publication of the research a debate has been raging about whether it was ethical (the consensus is no). Users were not informed about the experiment, which showed slightly different versions of the News Feed (more positive vs. more negative) to a limited number of people to s [...]


Facebook Defaults Posts From “Public” To “Friends” & Introduces Comprehensive Privacy Checkup

Privacy-Checkup While Facebook has talked a big privacy talk for a long time, today they've implemented a major change. A sweeping new update is making it simple for users to see who they are sharing content with and all new users will be defaulted to "friends" rather than "public." Current users will be notified about their settings as well through the use of overlays, pop-ups and a friendly looking blue dinosaur: Facebook is also releasing Privacy Checkup that will walk current users through their settings. This comes in the form of an impossible to miss overlay and pop-up notifications that clearly [...]


Angry Parents Seek To Kill $20 Million Facebook “Sponsored Stories” Settlement

facebook-legal-600 Last August Facebook settled a class action lawsuit for $20 million. The suit claimed "Sponsored Stores" ads misappropriated Facebook users’ likenesses without consent. The company has decided to "sunset" Sponsored Stores but will continue to display ads that utilize member images and Likes. The settlement was approved over a number of objections arguing that minors’ privacy rights were not sufficiently protected under its terms. Child advocates had wanted explicit opt-in parental consent before minors’ images/Likes could be used in ads. The settlement contained mechanisms to solici [...]


Facebook Sued Under Federal Wiretapping Law For Mining Private Messages

facebook-legal-law-books-featured Facebook faces a potential class action lawsuit ("Matthew Campbell v. Facebook Inc.") for allegedly violating the US Electronic Communications Privacy Act and California privacy and unfair competition laws. At issue is the company's alleged practice of scanning private Facebook messages (first discovered in 2012) for URLs and then using that information as part of its ad targeting data. Reportedly it treats the presence of the URL in a private message as a Like of that publisher or content. The complaint essentially argues: Facebook's statements to users creates expectations of pri [...]


Facebook’s Recent Privacy Policy Updates Take Effect Today

Facebook-Home-Logo Facebook's controversial privacy policy updates -- announced back in August -- are taking effect today. In a blog post today, the company goes out of its way to explain that the update doesn't change Facebook's advertising policies, it only changed the language in Facebook's official policy documents. One of the controversial word changes, however, has been removed -- a sentence related to minors and their parents. The language said that Facebook was assuming parental consent of the company's potential use of personal information in connection with sponsored content. In today's announcem [...]


Facebook To Retire Who Can Look Me Up” Search Setting, Finalizing Changes Announced Last Year

facebook Facebook announced today it would be completing the removal of its "Who can look up my timeline by name?" search setting. Last December, the company announced the search setting would be automatically retired for users no longer taking advantage of it, with a "small percentage of people" still using the search setting able to access it. With today's announcement, any users who still have access to the "Who can look up my timeline by name" search setting will begin seeing the following reminder that the setting is soon to be retired: The search setting allowed users to control if t [...]


FTC Opens New Facebook Investigation Over Privacy Changes

facebook Privacy continues to be Facebook's nemesis. The company's envelope-pushing approach to privacy has repeatedly been the subject of complaints and litigation over the years. And now it's caught between a court-mandated settlement and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Facebook recently settled a "Sponsored Stories" class action lawsuit for $20 million. That suit argued that Facebook had misappropriated users’ likenesses and other content without their consent. On August 29 Facebook updated its privacy policies to reflect the terms of that settlement. The major change is reflected in th [...]


Facebook May Expand Use Of Facial Recognition To Billion+ Public User Profile Pictures

facebook-logo-sm After Facebook announced updates to its Data Use Policy this week, Reuters is reporting that the social network is considering applying its facial recognition technology to user profile pictures, adding over a billion public profile photos to the site's facial recognition database. According to Reuters, Facebook leverages the facial recognition technology for its "Tag Suggest" feature, automatically identifying users in newly uploaded photos by comparing faces in a picture to previous photos where the user was tagged. Facebook told Reuters that expanding its facial recognition technology to [...]


Facebook Govt Data Requests Dominated By US

Facebook world 2 Facebook released its Government Data Requests report, covering the first half of 2013. The country with the most requests by far is the US. India is next in line and then several European countries follow: Germany, France, UK and Italy. Yet none of the volume of these "next in order" countries even begins to approach the level of the US, which had up to 12,000 data requests from 21,000 user accounts. Below is a condensed  version of Facebook's table, which is available in its entirety in the post. Here's Facebook's statement about the nature of these requests and its procedure for [...]


Facebook Wants To Power M-Commerce For Others

Facebook Mobile -iphone iOS devices According to a report in AllThingsD, which Facebook apparently confirmed, the company is testing -- emphasis on that word -- a new payments system in which consumers would use stored credit card data (on Facebook) to buy things on third-party mobile apps. Payment would be triggered using Facebook log-in credentials (not unlike Amazon's one-click purchase capability). From a consumer perspective, it would remove considerable friction from the current mobile e-commerce purchase experience because they would no longer have to provide 16-digit credit card numbers to random (and untrusted) e-com [...]


Facebook Bug Last Week Exposed Email & Phone Numbers Of 6 Million Accounts

facebook Late last week, a bug caused a bit of chaos for Facebook's privacy team. A security bug was introduced into the Facebook environment that exposed user emails and phone numbers to a limited number of people. Six million users were exposed to the bug, and in most cases, this data was likely exposed to one person. The bug came via the download your information (DYI) and gave some users additional information of their friends. Here's Facebook's description of what happened: We've concluded that approximately 6 million Facebook users had email addresses or telephone numbers shared. There were [...]


Google, Facebook In Transparency Battle Over PRISM Disclosures

online privacy Last night, what might be called a "transparency battle" erupted between Google and Facebook following Facebook's disclosure of government-related user-data requests: For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000. These requests run the gamut – from things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child, to a federal marshal tracking a fugitive, to a p [...]


Scope of Alleged Spying On Americans’ Internet Activity Massive, “Beyond Orwellian”

privacy-security-online-computer It turns out that for the past roughly 6 years, the US government has been "collecting" or "mining" US citizens' personal data and communications from telcos and Internet companies -- effectively "spying" on US citizens. Those data, it has been alleged, come in large part from direct access to the servers of most of the Internet's biggest brands: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL and others. (Dropbox was apparently cited in leaked documents as “coming soon.”) These bombshell disclosures follow yesterday's discovery that the US government was collecting Verizon telephon [...]


Pew: 94% Of Teenagers Use Facebook, Have 425 Facebook Friends, But Twitter & Instagram Adoption Way Up

facebook-teens-youth-featured Teenagers use Facebook by far more than any other social media site and have over 400 friends on it. But Twitter and Instagram have massively increased their usage in the past year, according to a new survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, together with Harvard's Berkman Center. The new report covers US teens and social media. There are an enormous number of findings in the document, which was compiled using both surveys and focus groups. You can read or download the full report online. Facebook Tops, Twitter & Instagram Growing According to the report, 95 percent [...]


Study: Millennials More Comfortable Sharing Personal Data For Targeted Ads & Relevant Offers

personal-data-privacy-featured A recent survey conducted by the USC Annenberg Center for Digital Future and Bovitz Inc., revealed "Millennials" (those 18-35)  have a different attitude than Internet users 35 years and older when it comes to sharing their personal data online with businesses. While 70 percent of Millennials agreed with the statement, "No one should ever be allowed to have access to my personal data," 56 percent said they would share their location with a nearby company in return for a relevant coupon or promotional deal. Only 42 percent of users 35 years and older agreed they would share their location. [...]


Facebook Expands Custom Audiences With Third Party Audience Segmentation Data

facebook-target-aim-featured Last year, Facebook introduced Custom Audiences, which enables companies to upload customer or prospect databases and target those individuals on Facebook by matching customer IDs with Facebook IDs, phone numbers or email addresses (subject to privacy protections). That capability was recently expanded with "Lookalike Audiences," which enable marketers to find segments that generally match specific Custom Audiences on Facebook. Today, Facebook further extended the functionality of Custom Audiences by announcing that information from third-party data vendors Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom and [...]


Facebook Using Data, Tools To Bring Online And Offline Consumer Marketing Together

facebook-globe-world-200 If you're a privacy advocate you might find it creepy or worrisome. But if you're a marketer, you might be thrilled by the moves that Facebook is making to bring the online and offline worlds together. AdAge highlights a number of initiatives that Facebook has undertaken to both show the offline sales impact of its ads as well as to bring offline consumer data to online targeting. Both involve the two-way flow of consumer data between online and traditional offline databases. Facebook isn't the first company to try any of this, but its scale puts it in a better position than others to su [...]


Facebook Wins (Temporary) Reprive From Fake Names In Germany

facebook-globe-world-200 The AP is reporting that a German court has invalidated a decision of the German privacy regulator, which opposes Facebook's real names/identities policy. Privacy regulators oppose the Facebook policy on the grounds that German and European privacy and free-speech rules prohibit a ban on fake names. However the court's decision is not based on German law. According to the AP report, "The administrative court in northern German Schleswig argued in its ruling Thursday that German privacy laws weren't applicable because Facebook has its European headquarters in Ireland - which has less far-rea [...]


New Facebook App Will Track User’s Locations To Help You Find Nearby Friends

online privacy Looking for a new way to stalk find your nearby Facebook friends? According to Bloomberg, a new Facebook app is being finalized that will allow users to see the location of their Facebook friends nearby. Using GPS, the app would allow users to show or view exact location detail when shared with a friend. This functionality is very similar to the Google Latitude product & Apple's Find My Friends app. Both of these applications drew heavy criticism for the potential privacy issues that can arise from broadcasting one's location. Most of the concerns occur not with the product itself, but [...]


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