Following the proposed changes to Facebook’s terms of service, two US privacy groups have asked the social network to review it’s position, claiming that the changes violate commitments to protect users.
Many people were up in arms over the fact that Facebook said it was going to remove users’ ability to vote on policy changes after previous votes experienced woefully poor turnouts. However, Facebook is also planning to remove a setting that allows users to control who is able to contact them on its email system, and this is something that does not sit well with privacy groups.
Both the Electronic Privacy Information Centre and the Centre for Digital Democracy have written to Mark Zuckerberg, stating that the proposed changes to Facebook’s terms of service could contravene a deal the social network recently signed with the Federal Trade Commission.
On the matter of the change to Facebook email controls, the letter said:
“By removing users’ ability to prevent strangers from sending unwanted messages, the proposed changes are likely to increase the amount of spam that users receive.”
Other proposed changes that have been met with objections from privacy organisations are the plans to share information between Facebook and Instagram – something that has been likened to Google’s controversial decision to unify data across its services.
As well as US privacy groups, UK organisations have weighed in with their own criticisms of the changes. Jim Killock, Director of Open Rights Group, said:
“Facebook is lobbying the UK government to weaken new data protection laws and reduce our legal rights… It claims that the right to have our data back or to destroy it would be unworkable. But then Facebook go and show exactly why UK citizens need new, stronger personal data laws.”
However, it must be noted that none of these changes have yet been implemented. If the proposals generate more than 7,000 public comments within a 7-day period, then a user vote to approve the changes is triggered. Having said that, the result of the vote is only binding if at least 30% of users take part, and given that the turnout in previous votes has been less than 1%, it seems the days of Facebook being a democracy may be numbered.