December 17, 2009 | By Tim Jones

The World Reacts to The New Facebook

It's been a little over a week since Facebook debuted a massive revamp of its privacy settings. EFF immediately followed that release with a detailed critique, concluding that the changes were "clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before [and] will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data."





Since then, EFF's criticisms — and those of other vocal privacy advocates like ACLU, CDT, and EPIC — have been echoed throughout the mainstream press and across the web. As a Boston Globe editorial titled "Facebook's Privacy Downgrade" correctly pointed out, "Most people who join Facebook do so because they want to share photos and messages with friends and family, not to expose their lives to the entire world."

Notably, in a testament to the even-handedness of EFF's critique, The Atlantic cited our blog post both in a story collecting negative reactions and in another story collecting positive reactions to the Facebook privacy revamp.

Not to be outdone by the media, Facebook users themselves were also immediately up in arms over the new changes. Negative comments flooded the Facebook Blog and the Facebook Site Governance page. Several of those comments were collected by the San Francisco Chronicle in a story titled "Facebook users speak out against new privacy settings". Meanwhile, unhappy users used Facebook itself to organize opposition to the changes, with new groups being formed to protest the privacy revamp and older groups seeing renewed activity.

The past week's privacy backlash culminated today with the filing of a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), joined by several other consumer and privacy groups. In the complaint, EPIC alleges that Facebook's latest privacy changes are deceptive and unfair and asks that the FTC open an investigation and order Facebook to restore to its users the control over their privacy that has been lost in the transition. Considering the many tens of millions of American consumers who use Facebook, we hope and expect that the FTC will seriously consider the important questions raised by today's complaint.


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