Privacy groups bring Facebook complaints to FTC

The groups call Facebook's recent privacy changes 'unfair and deceptive'

Ten privacy and consumer groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), filed a complaint Thursday with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, saying that Facebook's newly revamped privacy settings are deceptive and unfair.

Facebook unveiled the new privacy settings last week, saying that they were giving users more granular control over their settings, but critics immediately jumped on the fact that Facebook's new default settings push information that may previously have been semi-private onto the Internet and they now give users no way to block their friends' Facebook applications from accessing personal data.

"Facebook is engaging in unfair and deceptive acts and practices," that are "likely to cause substantial injury to consumers," says the complaint (PDF), which was posted to EPIC's Web site Thursday.

In an e-mailed response to the complaint, a Facebook spokesman said the company was "disappointed that EPIC has chosen to share their concerns with the FTC while refusing to talk to us about them." Facebook discussed these changes with regulators, including the FTC prior to going live with them.

Since the changes went live on Dec. 9, Facebook has made some adjustments. The company now gives users a way to prevent their list of friends from being publicly available.

Among those who signed the complaint are the American Library Association, the Center for Digital Democracy, the Consumer Federation of America, and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

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Robert McMillan

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