Latest Facebook Changes Spark More Privacy Debate – Recent product changes by Facebook have drawn a range of privacy critics… that phrase is timeless at this point. The company has, in one way or another, tried to be more open with user data in the past few years. Politicians, privacy groups and others have consistently criticized this effort.
But in the news now: Facebook asked all users to match their personal profile interests to publicly accessible Pages, it introduced new ways for third-parties to access some user data without explicit prior user permission, and it allowed developers to store data for longer than 24 hours.
The criticism is coming from US senators and Facebook’s own former chief privacy officer — who is running to be California’s next attorney general — not just from sitting attorney generals and privacy groups. They want Facebook to provide users with more control over how their data is shared, although the exact demand depends on the critic.
Do the headlines matter? CNET’s Caroline McCarthy reports that “we’ve heard from insiders that the nature of the recent concern from D.C. lawmakers has indeed made Facebook nervous. The company knew that they’d be coming into the Beltway’s crosshairs but they were not expecting the immediate force so soon after this month’s F8 conference.”
Politicians and privacy groups have the incentive to use perceived privacy issues to promote their own interests. Sometimes, when they criticize companies like Facebook, this is what they’re really doing. Sometimes they’re also right. One key question is how Facebook users are reacting, and there’s no clear answer on that yet. Another other key question is if this political indignation will translate to new legislation and enforcement efforts around protecting user privacy.
HTML5 Could Be Coming to Facebook Considers HTML5 – The company tells TechCrunch that supporting HTML5, a forthcoming and high-powered web language markup, is something it would consider “for the future.” Rumors began to circulate this week that it had already enabled HTML5 video. But, it turns out the videos were being encoded with an h.264 format, just like they are on an iPad and iPhone.
Amazon’s Kindle to Add Facebook Integration – Amazon’s Kindle 2.5 e-reader is set to include Facebook and Twitter integrations when it’s released in late May. The device is currently in beta, but adds social network sharing to its functions, allowing users to share book passages on Facebook and Twitter.
AOL’s AIM Incorporates Facebook – AOL’s AIM users have surpassed the 1 million mark since the company enabled people to chat with their Facebook friends on the service in February. More than 1 million people have done so via Facebook Connect, about 5% of AIM’s 21 million monthly users.
The service also enabled people to sign into AIM with a Facebook login, a feature that will soon be available on the AIM iPad app, which is the second most popular social network app after Twitterific.
Starbucks Introduces Facebook Payments – Starbucks debuted a Facebook application today allowing customers to manage their Starbucks cards right on Facebook. The app allows users to register/unregister cards, check their balance, reload them, reload a friend’s card as a gift and edit profile information.
LiveWorld Upgrades Moderation Tools – LiveWorld added new moderation tools this week capable of moderating hundreds of Facebook posts every hour to keep spam and objectionable content from Facebook Pages. The company already moderates more than 2 million posts a month and with the company’s new moderation solution suite, Page administrators can work more quickly than by using just Facebook alone; see our past coverage for more.
Arizona Catches Fire on Facebook – After the passage of a controversial immigration law this week Facebook has been used once again for political ends as people from both sides of the debate rallied on the service. Governor Jan Brewer took to her official Page, while others launched Pages to boycott Arizona, support Arizona, support the state’s tourism industry, etc. For example, the group 1 MILLION Strong AGAINST the Arizona Immigration Law SB1070 has about 995,000 members and a Page called Stand With Arizona (and Against Illegal Immigration) has 61,000 fans; both were created shortly after the law passed last Friday.