A coalition of privacy groups asked regulators Thursday to investigate controversial new privacy settings on Facebook, saying recent changes in how the massive social networking site treats customer data violate federal consumer protection laws.
The complaint, filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), says the changes significantly cut back customer privacy controls by forcing into the public eye certain information that they could previously restrict. Under the new policy, a user’s profile picture, current city, gender and friend and fan page lists are automatically public for all users, with little option to limit who is able to see this information. Additionally, Facebook set more defaults to its public setting, hoping users will start sharing information, such as their status updates, with the entire internet rather than limited sets of hand selected family members or friends — a clear effort to compete with Twitter by serving more real time customer data.
The United States Congress told the Federal Trade Commission in March to study the level of access that minors in virtual worlds have to explicit content. An FTC commission released the results earlier this week, and they generally shows what you’d expect — minors are able to access some explicit content in some virtual worlds, despite various efforts by virtual world companies to stop them. Notably, the explicit content was mostly user generated text (chats, entries on message boards, etc).