Facebook’s surprise: Trick or Treat ?

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Photo - Scott Beale/Laughing Squid under Creative Common license

Facebook is all set to address issues regarding the personal details it collects on its users. Initial signs are that the social networking giant is ready to provide any user with more about the information it stores and tracks.

The enhanced archive feature is going to come into the fray gradually to its 845 million monthly active users. It is much bigger than the first archive in 2010, which has been criticized by majority of European regulators and privacy advocates.

It is worthwhile mentioning that the archive published by Facebook in 2010 gave users a copy of their images, messages, friends list, chat conversations and posts. According to the sources, the new version is going to include past user names, Internet protocol addresses and friend requests. More categories of details are going to be supplied in the coming years.

Online social networks provide free services to general public and make money with the help of advertising, which can often be directed in a more effective manner with the help of the details the network has collected on them.

Facebook, which is working overtime for an initial public stock offering, most likely next month, has been trying to accommodate European government, where privacy laws are quite strict in comparison to the United States.

Privacy advocates not happy

Privacy advocates, especially the Europe-Vs-Facebook organization is not happy with Facebook’s latest attempt.

In a scathing attack on Facebook, the website says:

“But Facebook keeps fooling its users: Instead of handing out a one-on-one copy of all 84 data categories Facebook is holding about every user, we will only get to see a fraction of this information. Many data categories are going to be not in the download tool but spread all over the webpage. This means that users have to hunt for it by digging through the “timeline”, the “activity log” and other sorts of pages.

We demand from Facebook to stick to the law and give a full copy of all raw data to users that made an access request.”

Last year, the Irish Data Protection Commission signed a contract with Facebook, which runs its international businesses from offices in Dublin, to offer more details to its users and modify its data protection routines. Talking in terms of European perspective, 40,000 European Facebook users have already requested a complete copy of the information that the site has compiled on each of them.

Furthermore, Facebook’s data collection routines are being scrutinized in Brussels as European Union policy makers deliberate on modifications to the European Data Protection Directive, which was last revised seven years back.


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