UC Berkeley Expert Questions Facebook's Privacy Policies

The Daily Online Examiner


In an interview with MediaPost, Berkeley Center for Law and Technology's Chris Hoofnagle specifically questioned some of Facebook's choices, including its decision last December to change its default settings. The new defaults provide for user over 18 to share all information with "everyone" -- Facebook's hundreds of millions of users as well as search engines. Additionally, Facebook classified a host of data as "publicly available information," including users' names, profile pictures, cities, gender, networks and list of friends and pages people are fans of.

"Facebook settings don't seem to be based on any empirical evidence whatsoever," Hoofnagle tells MediaPost. "They seem to be arbitrary."

What's more, he adds, the new search-engine friendly settings seem "more controlled by Facebook's desire to drive traffic than by any norms."

While many people have criticized Facebook, criticism from Hoofnagle could be especially weighty. Hoofnagle was recently tapped to serve as co-president of a new foundation created by Facebook to settle a class-action lawsuit stemming from another of the company's privacy fiascos -- the ill-fated Beacon program, which told members about their friends' off-site purchases.