ADOTAS – Facebook users may have more to worry about than being “poked” by long-lost “pals” from high school. According to a Canadian privacy group, the social networking site violates privacy laws, collecting more data than it needs and sharing it with interactive advertisers and others without users’ permission.
“Facebook does not make a reasonable effort to advise users of the purposes for which their personal information is used,” the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic said in its complaint. “Facebook also does not advise users of the extent of their personal information that will be shared by joining a network.”
Facebook has also faced criticism in the U.S. over its privacy controls, but the company has said it has revamped its site, giving users more control over the information they share with others.
The Canadian complaint focuses on Beacon, which shares information on users’ recent purchases with their friends, and SocialAds, which alerts users’ friends to their favorite brands. Initially, people who didn’t choose to opt out of the programs were automatically enlisted, launching a firestorm of controversy. (Facebook has set up the Beacon program so that users have to opt in to be a part of it – but they’re still automatically enlisted into the SocialAds program unless they opt out, an issue the privacy group highlights in its complaint).
Facebook released a statement saying the complaint was ungrounded and riddled with errors.
“We pride ourselves on the industry leading controls we offer users over their private information,” Facebook said in a statement. “We believe that this is an important reason that nearly 40% of Canadians on the Internet use our service. We’ve reviewed the complaint and found it has serious factual errors, most notably its neglect of the fact that almost all Facebook data is willingly shared by users.”