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Facebook under fire

WASHINGTON ­- Facebook is drawing fire from privacy activists again, after unveiling a new policy which could turn users’ data and pictures into advertising.

The new plan would “dramatically expand the use of personal information for advertising purposes,” said a letter this week to the US Federal Trade Commission by six privacy organizations.

The letter said the changes violate a 2011 consent order with the US watchdog agency and urged the FTC to “act to enforce its order.”

If the changes take effect, the letter said, “Facebook users who reasonably believed that their images and content would not be used for commercial purposes without their consent will now find their pictures showing up on the pages of their friends endorsing the products of Facebook’s advertisers.”

“Remarkably, their images could even be used by Facebook to endorse products that the user does not like or even use,” added the letter from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Watchdog, and three other groups. Facebook unveiled the changes as part of a settlement of a class action suit over the use of user names and images in so-called “sponsored stories.”

According to the letter, Facebook’s existing policy allowed its users to limit how their name and profile picture may be associated with advertising. (AFP)

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