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Facebook Revolt at Hand?

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May 14, 2010

Yesterday, Facebook reportedly called an “all hands” meeting to discuss its privacy policies. That’s because they are facing a brewing revolt among Facebook users alarmed by the company’s, ahem, cavalier attitude toward protecting your privacy.

In recent months, Facebook has rolled out some very privacy-unfriendly practices, from the “privacy transition” that took away privacy controls to “instant personalization” that instantly shares your personal information with third party pages without your consent.

At every step, we’ve worked to get word of these changes out, and pushed back, because at the ACLU, we believe Facebook users deserve control over their personal information.

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has claimed that “the default is social.” But to Facebook, “social” seems to mean making your personal information public to the entire world.

Tens of thousands have signed an ACLU petition making clear that people need the ability to control who they share information with.

And we’re not the only ones criticizing Facebook for its failure to live up to its own stated principles and its “lametastically lame” response to the public outcry. Even Congress and European governments are getting in on the act. In fact, plans for “Quit Facebook Day” and calls for a Facebook alternative have been getting louder, and an effort to build an open-source, user-centric social network was featured in The New York Times and has since garnered over $120,000 in donations (and counting) to support its efforts.

Now, $120,000 might be chump change to the reported $35 billion value of Facebook, but if these cries of revolt continue and users continue to jump ship, chump change might be all Facebook has left.

So let’s hope Facebook is ready to listen. We like being social — but we want to choose how and with whom our personal information is shared. If Facebook wants us to trust it, it needs to take this opportunity and recommit itself to the principle that users have control over their own information.

Now is the time to send this message loud and clear. If you haven’t already, sign our Facebook petition and tell Facebook you want to take back control of your personal information!