Facebook calls crisis meeting to tackle backlash

13 May 2010

Following last week’s security hole and a series of updates leaving users confused about security and privacy settings, Facebook is today holding an emergency meeting on its privacy strategy.

‘If you’re not comfortable sharing, don’t’

This emergency meeting follows a week of criticism of Facebook’s new Instant Personalization feature, which has already had some glitches, as well as what the general public perceive to be a lack of transparency about updates to the social networking site that can affect what user information is public and what is private.

In an interview with the New York Times, Elliot Schrage, vice-president for public policy at Facebook, said: “If you’re not comfortable sharing, don’t.”

You’ve been ‘Zucked’

This, it seems, is advice that has been taken in the form of many high-profile accounts being deactivated. Already technology multimedia broadcaster Leo LaPorte and well-known entrepreneur Jason Calacanis have quit the site, with Calacanis stating on his blog: “You can only screw people for so long before it catches up to you. The entire industry went from rooting for Zuckerberg to hating him and Facebook – in under 18 months.

“Peter Rojas and Matt Cutts have turned off their Facebook pages, and more intelligent people everywhere are talking about doing so.”

Calacanis referred to the act of Facebook users having their privacy settings changed without their knowledge as getting ‘Zucked’.

The changing face of its privacy policy

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has written an article charting the changes in Facebook’s privacy policy, from its inception in 2005 to the last major change in April 2010.

It has evolved from:

“No personal information that you submit to Thefacebook will be available to any user of the Web Site who does not belong to at least one of the groups specified by you in your privacy settings.”


“Because it takes two to connect, your privacy settings only control who can see the connection on your profile page. If you are uncomfortable with the connection being publicly available, you should consider removing (or not making) the connection.”

The European Article 29 Data Protection Working Party has also made a stand (PDF press release) on how it feels about Facebook’s privacy settings.

“It is unacceptable that the company fundamentally changed the default settings on its social-networking platform to the detriment of a user,” said the group yesterday.

By Marie Boran

Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg