Last Wednesday, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) announced that is going to change its terms of service that would allow it to share user information with photo-sharing app Instagram, eliminate the user voting system, and snatch users' rights to choose who can send them e-mails on the social network.
Two major privacy advocacy groups asked Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) on Monday to withdraw the proposed changes. Of course, people have protested the changes before, whether it was Timeline, News Feed, redesign, and many other things. But this one is much more tricky because the privacy groups claim that Facebook will be violating an existing settlement with the Federal Trade Commission if it implements these changes.
The Center for Digital Democracy and Electronic Privacy Information Center sent a letter to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and later published the letter on their websites on Monday. The letter said that by sharing user info with Instagram, Facebook would implicate its recent settlement with FTC. The Menlo Park, California-based company has decided to combine user profiles with Instagram, thus ending the practice of keeping the user information separate on two platforms.
In April this year, Mark Zuckerberg settled some privacy charges with the Federal Trade Commission that Facebook had deceived users and forced them to share much more information than they intended. According to the settlement, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) must receive users' consent before implementing certain privacy changes.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and other companies have also faced increasing enforcement from privacy advocates as billions of users around the world entrust information about their personal lives to these web giants. In January, Google announced that it would combine users' information across its various services to offer a more customized user experience.
Now the proposed changes need at least 7,000 comments within the seven-day period. After reaching that mark, the company's terms automatically trigger voting by users to approve the changes. But the voting would be valid only if more than 30 percent of Facebook's users participate. Before this, two times voting has taken place over privacy changes, but it never touched the 30 percent of users threshold.
The latest privacy changes generated more than 17,000 comments by Monday, more than 95 percent of them were negative. Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said that the company will be sharing information only with its affiliates.
The privacy moves are being scrutinized by European regulators as well. They are examining the impact of these proposed changes on the privacy of their citizens.