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The FTC Is Bringing Some Changes To Facebook

Publication Date: 
November 14, 2011
John Moe

Ryan Calo, CIS Director of Privacy and Robotics, is quoted by John Moe of Marketplace on how a new settlement between the FTC and Facebook will give users "extra warning" on changes to the site's privacy settings.

The impending settlement between the FTC and Facebook has to do with how Facebook changes its privacy settings. Under the agreement, Facebook would need to get a user's permission before using data in a way that's different than how the user originally agreed to when the data was used. So if you set a certain status update to be seen by just your friends, Facebook can't change privacy practices later and make that status public without your permission.

In fact, the concept of "permission" is going to be the most significant way that you might notice a difference in your Facebook experience.

"What it's going to do is stop you from getting surprised as much," says Ryan Calo of Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society. "You're not going to just turn on your social network one day and find out suddenly something you didn't think was being shared is being shared. Rather you're going to turn it on and very likely you'll see a pop-up at the very beginning of your experience that tells you about changes and asks you to accept them."

So you'll encounter some extra warnings and have to participate more. It's going to have an effect on the data you make public but not so much on what other people collect about you, says Calo. "It doesn't necessarily do much for other questions about how much data does company get, under what circumstances can the government get my information but it does help with this big problem of people not realizing what they're sharing. What it puts a brake on, I think, not just for Facebook, but other companies, is this idea that it's okay to ask for forgiveness instead of permission."