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Monday, November 26, 2007
Adam Green, Civic Action,

REVEALED: Facebook Originally Planned To Let Users Permanently Opt-Out of Having Private Info Made Public – Then Took It Away

MoveOn and Over 20,000 Facebook Users Say Facebook Should Do More To Protect Privacy

** Interviews available with Facebook users concerned about privacy **

Leaked screenshots of Facebook’s original Beacon feature for corporate advertisers – made public at earlier this month – reveal that Facebook originally planned to give its users the ability to permanently opt out of having their private purchases made public on Facebook.

Facebook evidently removed that option just before launching the new privacy-invading feature. Facebook users who are aware that their private purchases on other websites are being made public on Facebook must now opt out site by site, week by week, month by month. There is no permanent opt-out option – let alone an opt-in policy.

“Facebook should explain why they chose at the last minute to put the wish lists of corporate advertisers ahead of the privacy interests of their users,” said Adam Green, a spokesperson for Civic Action. “Facebook has the potential to revolutionize how we communicate with each other and organize around issues together in a 21st century democracy. But to succeed, they need the trust of their users. The fact that Facebook pro-actively chose to make it harder for their users to keep private information from being made public will rub a lot of Facebook users the wrong way. The ultimate act of good faith would be to switch to an opt-in policy.”

More than 22,000 Facebook users have joined MoveOn’s Facebook group, “Facebook, stop invading my privacy!” News outlets around the world have reported on this effort.

Some Facebook advertisers have agreed that Facebook should have an opt-in policy, not opt-out::

Here are some of the comments people wrote on the Facebook group page (interviews available upon request):

In 2006, when Facebook users protested policies that violated privacy, Facebook's founder admitted, "We really messed this one up...we didn't build in the proper privacy controls right away." The problem got fixed.



MoveOn’s Facebook group: "Facebook, stop invading my privacy!" - 5000 members in less than a day

MoveOn’s original email on this subject: reveals screenshots of originally-planned Facebook Beacon feature – with permanent opt-out:

Demo of how the Facebook "opt out" works now – hidden from users, and no permanent opt-out ability: favors opt-in, not opt-out

New York Times favors opt-in, not opt-out

2006 Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on privacy breach: "We really messed this one up." =2208562130



NEW YORK TIMES: MoveOn Takes On Facebook

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Latest target of MoveOn: Facebook,1,2142037.story?coll=la-headlines-business

CNET: takes on Facebook's 'Beacon' ads

CONSUMERIST: Facebook Ruins Christmas?

BOING BOING: MoveOn to Facebook: stop violating user privacy