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Mum's the word from all-hands Facebook company meeting on privacy

Facebook execs not saying if changes will be made to the social network's privacy policies

May 13, 2010 09:12 PM ET

Computerworld - Right out of the gates, Facebook is staying mum about what went on during its all-hands-on-deck company privacy meeting late on Thursday.

In an e-mailed statement to Computerworld, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said, "We had a productive discussion where comments were made and questions were asked and answered."

Noyes declined, however, to say if the social networking giant made any decisions about changing its contentious privacy policies or if the meeting was simply to allow employees to ask questions about the brouhaha that has arisen over them.

Earlier on Thursday, Noyes would only confirm that a meeting had been called to discuss privacy issues. The meeting was set for late this afternoon Pacific time.

The blogosphere, though, has been heating up with rampant conjecture about today's meeting, since it comes on the heels of the latest complaints about privacy protections on the uber popular social networking site.

Last month, Facebook unveiled a bevy of tools aimed at extending the social network's reach across the Web by enabling its users' information to be shared with third-party Web sites.

That move stirred up a hornets' nest of controversy from critics, who said users shouldn't have to share personal information with other Web sites unless they opt into the program.

The controversy reached the point that several U.S. senators actually made public calls for Facebook to rethink its privacy safeguards. Executives from Facebook even had a meeting with the staff of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to discuss the issue.

And on Wednesday, a coalition of European data protection officials called the Facebook changes "unacceptable."

However, in an interview with Computerworld last week, Ethan Beard, director of the Facebook site's developer network, defended Facebook's policies, and even said users love the changes that the company has made.

"People are actively opting in to engage with the social Web," Beard said. "The response from users speaks very, very loudly that they love what we're doing. I think there's a lot of other talk that's not coming from users necessarily. There's been a lot of interest from the media, from organizations and officials."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at Twitter @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed Gaudin RSS. Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Read more about Privacy in Computerworld's Privacy Topic Center.



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