Consumer Watchdog Joins Call For FTC Investigation Of Facebook For Violating Users’ Privacy By Continued Tracking And New “Frictionless Sharing” Feature

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Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog today joined the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and other privacy groups in asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook for allegedly tracking users after they have logged out of Facebook and for its new features associated with “Frictionless Sharing.”

The groups alerted the FTC to reports that Facebook has been using cookies to track the Internet activity of users even after they have logged out of Facebook, in direct opposition to Facebook’s representations that it does not engage in this practice.

The groups also outlined the privacy concerns of “Frictionless Sharing,” Facebook’s new system that broadcasts personal information through new features such as Ticker, Timeline, and Open Graph. These new features allow Facebook to choose which information will be displayed more prominently on a user’s profile, and give Facebook the power to automatically share information like when a user reads an article, listens to a song, or watches a TV show on social apps.

Read the groups’ letter here:

“Once again Facebook has been violating its own stated privacy policies, this time by tracking users even after they logged out,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director. “The FTC needs to halt Facebook’s intrusive, abusive and deceptive practices.”

The letter calls upon the FTC to use its authority under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act to investigate Facebook’s tracking practices and new features:

“Much of the data which Facebook now plans to publicize in new ways was shared by users who relied on a different privacy framework, or, in the case of post-log-out tracking, on Facebook’s representations of a different framework. For users who wish to maintain something approaching their old privacy settings, Facebook has offered solutions that are confusing, impractical, and unfair. By concealing the company’s tracking of users’ post-log-out activity and materially changing the framework under which users’ share data without providing a clear opportunity for users to maintain existing privacy protections, Facebook is engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices.”

“The new ‘Frictionless Sharing’ features are just more examples of Facebook disregarding the privacy of its users by making sweeping changes that expose personal information without giving users the chance to choose what information they want shared with the world,” said Laura Antonini, research attorney at Consumer Watchdog.

The letter was signed by Marc Rotenberg, EPIC executive director, Lillie Coney, EPIC Associate Director, and David Jacobs, EPIC consumer protection fellow. Besides Consumer Watchdog other organizations joining the call to the FTC were the American Civil Liberties Union, The American Library Association, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, The Center for Digital Democracy, The Center for Media and Democracy, Consumer Action, Privacy Activism, and Privacy Times in calling upon the FTC to investigate Facebook.

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John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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