'Facebook gives user info to advertisers'
In the backdrop of a flurry of complaints against Facebook related to its privacy settings, a Harvard Business School professor has claimed the popular social networking site provides users' information, including name and photos, to advertisers.Updated: May 23, 2010 13:26 IST
In the backdrop of a flurry of complaints against Facebook related to its privacy settings, a Harvard Business School professor has claimed the popular social networking site provides users' information, including name and photos, to advertisers.
"Facebook gives its advertisers more information about users than Facebook claimed and users have no way to opt out of that information sharing (short of ceasing to use Facebook or ceasing to click ads)," Edelman told PTI.
According to his findings, clicking on an advertisers' advertisement reveals the Facebook user's name or user ID to the advertiser.
"With default privacy settings, the advertiser can then see almost all of a user's activity on Facebook, including name, photos, friends, and more," he said. Queries sent to Facebook remained unanswered.
A professor at the school's negotiation, organisations and markets unit Edelman's research focuses on advertising activities on Internet and spyware, among others.
"My main concern about Facebook is that it shares data in ways users don't reasonably expect. Most of that concern results from confusing settings and frequently-changing defaults," Edelman pointed out.
Edelman said that he sent his findings about Facebook to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday (May 20). FTC primarily looks into anti-competitive business practices and also promotes consumer protection activities.
Going by media reports, Facebook is all set to introduce changes to its existing privacy settings in the coming days.
Earlier this month, groups from the US and Europe had complained about Facebook's changes to privacy settings, whereby the profile of users were made accessible to third parties by default.
An European data protection group had said that changes made by Facebook to the privacy settings were unacceptable.
"... it is unacceptable that the company fundamentally changed the default settings on its social-networking platform to the detriment of a user," the group of officials advising the European Commission had said in a letter to Facebook.
In the US, Electronic Private Research Centre (EPIC) and 14 other privacy and consumer protection agencies had lodged a complaint with the FTC against Facebook's privacy settings.
EPIC is a Washington-based public interest research centre.
First Published: May 23, 2010 11:55 IST