Status update: "It's complicated" between Mark Zuckerberg and four U.S. senators. On Tuesday, Sens. Charles Schumer, Al
Franken, Michael Bennet and Mark Begich wrote
a letter to the Facebook CEO asking
him to roll back the site's latest features
. They want
instant personalization—a feature that shares user information with
other Web sites—to be opt-in rather than opt-out. They warned that "Social networking sites have become the Wild West of the Internet." Is
this helpful consumer protection or are the senators out of their
- This Is a Welcome Effort, writes Ryan Tate at Gawker: "It often takes
decades to achieve this level of government scrutiny. Microsoft was
founded in 1975; it took nearly two decades before the Justice
Department went after the software company on antitrust grounds. Started
the same year, Apple Inc. avoided antitrust issues until last
year. But Facebook's repeated and brazen rollbacks of users privacy
have apparently touched a nerve."
- Touched a Nerve? This Is
Political Pandering, writes Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry at
Business Insider. "[This looks like] posturing by politicians wanting to
look web-savvy and caring about their voters' daily lives by making a
big hoopla around Facebook's new features. There doesn't seem to have
been a huge user backlash against Instant Personalization (yet). And
even if there were, Facebook also has a history of keeping new features
despite howls of protest, tweaking them, and then being proven right
about them as the site keeps growing unstoppably like a weed."
Are Right, writes Jason Kincaid at TechCrunch: "The
senators are spot on: Facebook has been systematically stripping away
users’ privacy one item at a time and adding it to the bucket of
information it considers publicly accessible. It’s debatable whether or
not a user’s list of friends, or Interests and Activities (which
recently could be made private but are now all public Fan Pages) really
constitute sensitive information. But the fact of the matter is that
people built their profiles under the impression that they were private,
and users don’t stand to benefit by having their control over this data
- No They Aren't, counters Eric Eldon at Inside Facebook: "The
senators may or may not understand how the technical aspects of this
policy work. What they should be focusing on here, but don’t seem to be,
is the fact that some people are breaking Facebook’s terms of service.
Data 'theft' is potentially a law enforcement issue that all web
companies face, and congress should be working to help them fight it."
Demands Are Reasonable, writes Sam
Diaz at ZDNet: "It sounds to me that Facebook may need a better way
to reach out to its users on what these changes means and how it
affects them. After all, Facebook has direct access to our Facebook
inboxes, our Facebook walls and our Facebook News Feeds. If Facebook
wanted to convey an easy-to-understand message to its users - emphasis
on 'easy-to-understand' - it certainly has the tools at its fingertips.
If it did a better job of that, maybe it could finally launch a product
or partnership or redesign without getting backlash from users or formal
letters from U.S. senators."
- This Is Not a Priority, insists
Ron Schenone at The Blade: "At
a time in our nation’s history when the bankers and Wall Street
insiders are running amok, when we are trillions of dollars in debt,
when we have wars being fought on two fronts, congressmen have the time
to worry about whether Facebook users opt in or opt out? One word.
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