Is Facebook Violating The Law Just By Encouraging You To Share?

from the paternalistc-instincts dept

While we know that Facebook collects a ton of data on people, and we absolutely agree that the way it implemented some of its frictionless sharing is ridiculously unclear, does that mean it should be illegal? The privacy group EPIC, who has such a low opinion of all of human kind that it feels that only it should decide whether or not you can share your own info, is asking the feds to ban Facebook’s frictionless sharing — even though it’s entirely optional.

Again, we agree that the implementation is poor, but EPIC takes this to a whole different, and absolutely ridiculous level, suggesting that merely encouraging people to choose to share info is a violation of their privacy:

Encouraging or prompting users to share personal information is detrimental to consumer privacy

Wait, what? That makes no sense. I would agree that tricking people into sharing personal info is detrimental, but merely providing services and encouraging people to share info they want to share? How is that possibly detrimental? It’s only deterimental in the eyes of organizations like EPIC, who think that they need to block people who want to share from doing so.

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Companies: epic, facebook

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Comments on “Is Facebook Violating The Law Just By Encouraging You To Share?”

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Woadan says:

I guess I wouldn’t mind all of this, but when the default status is always set to open everything unless I opt out, it means I have to be very careful when I set an account up. Granted, this isn’t just Facebook, but Facebook is among the most egregious of the offenders on this issue.

Why not set the default to OFF (nothing shared), and let me choose which things I want to share? The answer is because it’s harder to get people to release something that’s already locked down, and that is because it’s less likely an account gets changed after it’s created.

Better yet, why not give me the information I need to make an informed decision?

alternatives() says:

Re: That's not social

@Woadan It is off by default. You don’t have an account unless you create one. Then it is on unless you wish to restrict it.

Interesting logic. Is that like “Payments to the IRS are voluntary” or “Being part of the Military in WWII was voluntary” – yet woe be to the person who did not volunteer?

And a fine idea, if one can “do not create an account/go to this place”. Lets see if FaceBook is its own little island one can opt to avoid?

Seriously, whaty is the point of joinging a social network if you don’t wish to share information?

Gosh, some web sites are only allowing you access to the information unless you sign up on FaceBook.

Scribd is an example that comes to mind. You used to be able to have a scribd account.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Encouraging or prompting users to share personal information is detrimental to consumer privacy.

Wait, what? That makes no sense.”

I don’t know… I’d say that encouraging or prompting someone to light one end of something on fire and stick the other end of it in ther mouth is detrimental to consumer health, and that makes perfect sense. And companies that have made it a business practice to do so have been sued time and time again, and even lost some of those lawsuits, so apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that encouraging someone to do something stupid is at least arguably wrong even if it’s “optional” for them to do it.

I’m not saying it should be illegal, but it isn’t as clear-cut as you make it sound.

alternatives() says:

Re: Re:

it isn’t as clear-cut as you make it sounds

That’s because the original poster is using emotionally loaded phrases because they have an axe to grind.

One just has to spot the axe is all.

In the 1800’s the idea of ‘scarce private resources become a public concern’ was reflected in railroads controlling bridges.

Lets bring that jurisprudence back. FaceBook/Google/Microsoft all have private actions that effect the public. So let’s force them to share. In the case of FaceBook, sharing is good, right?

JayTee (profile) says:

You're missing the point

The other day my friend put a link up from the guardian newspaper on facebook and in order for me to view the page from the link via facebook I had to agree to allow guardian to access my facebook information. I did not do this but instead had to just search google and find the page independently of facebook in order to not automatically share this information.

Indeed this work around worked but the main point is why should every link I click on leading me away from facebook require me to integrate that website with facebook?

Why cant I just click a link and go to that website?

I don’t want to see which of my friends list has also visited it because to be honest I don’t realy care… that’s not what I use facebook for. I’m not bothered about their internet browsing habits and I’m not the sort of person who is a sheep and is more likely to be interested in something because theres a small box in the corner saying “Hey these guys you know also looked at this and therefore that means you should look at it too!”

This is why you have missed the point Mike… at every opportunity they are forcing you to integrate as many websites you visit with facebook as possible … and this very much is a huge privacy concern.

JayTee (profile) says:

Re: Re: You're missing the point


Sorry for the triple post… but finally what is very irritating is when you are asked to share your information they never tell you what they are actually going to do with it… the only way to find out is to accept… and then all you see is the part they want to show you they never explain the full details…THIS IS A HUGE PRIVACY CONCERN

Anonymous Coward says:

“Encouraging or prompting users to share personal information is detrimental to consumer privacy”

…because many people have a high tendency toward conformity and obedience and so are likely to accept such prompts without review.

Or in other words, because a lot of people are spineless yes men who will automatically agree simply because they’re told they should.

People who genuinely want to share will do so without prompting.

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