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Facebook under privacy microscope

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David Gelles
Financial Times
April 12, 2010

Regulators globally are grappling with a conundrum: how to contend with the rise of an internet phenomenon that five years ago did not exist?

Facebook, founded in a Harvard dorm room just five years ago, now boasts 400m users and is the world’s largest social networking site.

But its meteoric rise has also brought with it an increase in scrutiny from regulators and privacy advocates, who are questioning the direction in which such sites are heading.

Social networking sites by definition have courted controversy over their privacy policies, including Google’s YouTube and Buzz, but it seems that Facebook has been the one to stick its neck out.

In December, it implemented changes that made most of its users’ personal information public by default. Last month, Facebook unveiled plans to share user information automatically with some third-party websites. “Facebook is just stuck under the privacy microscope,” says Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre. “There’s almost nothing the company does at this point that doesn’t raise some privacy concerns. That has not escaped the attention of regulators in both Europe and the US.”

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This article was posted: Monday, April 12, 2010 at 9:30 am

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