Originally published: May 10, 2010
Last updated: May 10, 2010 - 7:35pm
Even with the best intentions, Facebook is flailing -- and failing -- to defuse the controversy arising from its new Open Graph.
Facebook's latest move in its ongoing privacy punch-up is the hiring of Tim Muris, the former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under George W. Bush from 2001-2004, as a liaison with the current FTC; basically Muris is supposed to help Facebook reach some kind of compromise with the FTC to head off intrusive regulation regarding privacy issues. Predictably, the press and pundits have jumped all over Facebook for hiring an ex-Bush official, noting the previous administration's serial violations of privacy (most notably with illegal wiretapping). But these criticisms are off-target. First of all, Muris and the FTC had nothing to do with the illegal wire-tapping, which was carried out in secret by the National Security Agency. Besides the telecoms which collaborated with the administration, there's no proof anyone else was told other than the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees. Indeed, regulators from the FTC or FCC would probably be literally the last people the spooks would tell about their nefarious activities.
Furthermore, who else can Facebook hire with a comparable resume? Think about it: social networks are a relatively new phenomenon which first emerged during the eight years of the Bush administration (MySpace was founded in 2003, Facebook in 2004). If you're looking to hire a former official who's handled social network issues, you pretty much have to go hunting among Republican appointees.
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