Facebook privacy change angers campaigners

Privacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, railed against the changes to the world’s largest social network on Wednesday, calling the developments “flawed” and “worrisome”. The changes — first announced in July, and trailed again last week — finally began taking place on Wednesday. The site’s 350 million users are now being given the chance to alter settings on items they upload to the site, such as photographs and videos, but all of their status updates are now automatically made public unless specified otherwise.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group that campaigns for the rights of Internet users, said while some of the changes were beneficial to the site’s worldwide audience, others were “plain ugly”.

“These new ‘privacy’ changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before,” Kevin Bankston, a senior attorney with the EFF, wrote on the organisation’s blog. “Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data,” he added.

Nicole Ozer, the ACLU’s technology and civil liberties policy director, said the change “discourage or eliminate” certain important privacy settings.

“Before the recent changes, you had the option of exposing only a “limited” profile, consisting of as little as your name and networks, to other Facebook users — and nothing at all to Internet users at large,” she said.

“Now your profile picture, current city, friends list, gender, and fan pages are ‘publicly available information’, which means you have no way to prevent any other Facebook user from viewing this information on your profile,” she added.

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