Facebook has closed the comments period on the policy updates amid controversy
The proposed changes to Facebook's Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities have been criticized by six privacy groups, who on Wednesday wrote to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that the planned changes violate a 2011 settlement between Facebook and the FTC on user privacy. "We are asking the FTC to force FB to reverse its position," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, one of the signatories to the letter.
"We are taking the time to ensure that user comments are reviewed and taken into consideration to determine whether further updates are necessary and we expect to finalize the process in the coming week," Facebook said Thursday.
Many users on Facebook have been critical of the proposed changes. "While I don't object to Facebook mining my data in order to decide which ads to serve to me, I strongly object to my photos or text content being used to create ads others will see on Facebook," a user commented on the Facebook site governance page. "There should be a setting we can use to prohibit this use, and it should be well publicized so we know how to use it."
Under the proposed changes, Facebook states that by joining the site users "permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you."
Facebook said that the company had not changed its ad practices or policies in the proposed updates, but changed the language to make things clearer to people who use the service.
The changes proposed by Facebook follow the approval by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco division of a US$20 million fund to be set up by Facebook to settle a class-action lawsuit against the site's "sponsored stories" advertising program.
The privacy groups hold that the settlement has given a new right to Facebook. "The sponsored stories settlement needs to be unraveled, so consumer privacy isn't further eroded on Facebook," Chester said.
The closure of comments appears to have been on schedule, as the company had asked on Aug. 29 for feedback within the "next seven days."
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