Last updated: March 9, 2011 - 9:50am
"We're really an innovative, cutting-edge company on a lot of different fronts, and I think we feel like, 'Why can't we be innovators in privacy as well?' " Michael Richter, Facebook's chief privacy counsel, said in an interview this week. "The company cares about privacy." Nevertheless, some critics say Facebook is still not telling consumers enough about what it knows about them, and about how the social network and its business partners use that information. The Federal Trade Commission and some members of Congress are prodding the Palo Alto social network about privacy practices like the company's recent decision to allow third-party developers to access the telephone numbers of users who allow it. Facebook's intent to simplify its privacy disclosures, and to create interactive software tools to allow users to see how Facebook and application developers access their data, has drawn praise from some privacy advocates.
But "until Facebook tells its 600 million members what it tells its major advertisers and marketing partners -- on how to configure its system to generate data and other desired ad responses -- it is failing to protect user privacy," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. We intend to push the FTC and Congress to force Facebook to come clean about its data privacy practices."