back to article Watchdog files complaint over Facebook 'privacy' settings

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a formal complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission over Facebook's recent changes to user privacy settings, claiming the changes are in violation of consumer-protection law. In the complaint, the influential consumer watchdog urges the FTC to open an investigation …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not sure about friends list exposure

    I've just signed up for an account using another email address. Once signed up, I searched for my proper account; sure enough I could see my profile photograph, my pages and my gender but there was no sign of my friends list. That said, I previously didn't display my profile photograph to anyone but friends so I'm unhappy about that being visible to all. I don't think that change was made at all clear in the 'transition' screen.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Facebook should provide a pop up when people log in to give them the option to delete their account if they don't like the new privacy settings. It's not like using the site is compulsory.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you don't have anything to hide...

    Why is this a problem?

    1. Steve Roper

      Why is this a problem?

      Because it's none of your fucking business who my family and friends are, that's why.

      1. Winkypop Silver badge


        ...then don't use failbook???

        Just say no.

        1. SuperTim

          dont tell us what to do.

          Why? It served a purpose by allowing FRIENDS to contact each other. Now it exposes previously private pictures to the world. They havent even told us that's what they have done, so some are none the wiser that strangers can see their profile picture.

          I am sure you are happy letting the world see you dicking about, personally i dont like the precedent they set with this.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Of course...

          ...and if you want to have an ex-directory (aka unlisted) phone number - don't own a phone. Tit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you don't have anything to hide...

      "If you don't have anything to hide..."

      Thanks for that, haven't laughed so much for ages.

      Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.

      Or in this case one troll.

    3. Paul RND*1000
      Big Brother

      nothing to hide

      ...said the Anonymous Coward.

      I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that this was an ironic swipe at corporations and governments which want us to cede all privacy to them while conducting their own business behind closed doors.

  4. sher


    Facebook has made changes that Yes may make some things more private but on the other has opened wide ,our Privacy

    1. The friends List is not always private despite what they say about clicking on the pencil and unchecking the box , 4 of my friends have done this and it did not work all friends where still exposed .

    2. It is not About HAVING SOMETHING TO HIDE ,as referred to someone previously : It is about alot of FB users have family and friends and co workers and do not want there friends list to show , since these changes I had 13 friend requests from people who I do not even know, also people have said that someone on my friend list as added them and does not even know , yes you can click ignore but the point is that if the privacy was still there then we would not hav eto worry right !

    Also I have deleted my account and 9 others know have also , I wonder if Faebook would be honest enough to say how many people they have lost over this .

    The settings where fine before ,all they had to do was change that people own their pics , and that you where able to deleted their accounts not just deactivate .

    So lets see hope more people speak up and form groups then FB needs to listen and realize that if we wanted to FB to be more like twitter we would just join twitter ..... right !!

    have a great day now that I have vented lol

  5. PReDiToR

    Lesson is ...

    Don't put anything on the internet that you wouldn't want the world to read.

    When will people learn?

  6. raving angry loony

    I hope Facebook loses.

    When they forced me to use their "privacy tool", they deliberately and maliciously tried to reset every single fucking privacy setting I had set to "let everyone see this". That's slimy. I had it fairly well locked down, but with their new half-arsed "privacy through lying" they've gotten much less useful.

    Hey, AC, "why is this a problem"? Come on, give us your real name, address, phone number, birth date, blood type, and medical history. After all, if you have nothing to hide, why should you have a problem with any of that? Now remove one of those elements at a time. At what point does it stop becoming an invasion of privacy FOR YOU? Now, what kind of arrogant jackass are you (and so many others that spew the same tripe) that believes that just because it's not a problem for you, that it therefore shouldn't be a problem for anyone else?

    I, for one, do not want anyone-and-sundry to know what I'm a fan of, amongst other things. Having the fan pages was useful for me to see what was happening, but with this new lack of privacy I've now had to remove them all. No, using the site is not compulsory. But when you deliberately misrepresent the level of privacy that someone can expect from using the site, that's just scummy unethical behaviour that needs to be slapped down.

    Until Facebook's lack of privacy overwhelms its usefulness to me (and they've travelled a long way down that road with this latest update) I'll keep using it. But if they keep it up, I expect I'll just have to carefully change all the info to nonsense (you can't just delete it, as they keep that) then remove myself from that system.

    1. Iggle Piggle

      You are right but

      I have two accounts (yes terribly sad and against the rules). For the account I use frequently I was given the options you describe (everything made public by default) and it was up to me to manually change everything back to how it was. Then a week later I signed into the other account and there I was prompted with "leave everything as it was" and it was up to me to change to "everything made public". So something has changed in that week.

      I am tempted to say that I agree with people who say just delete the account if you don't like it.

  7. Eric Olson
    Thumb Up

    To those who say, "Nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide..."

    Sometimes, people are using the internet for more than porn and kitten pictures (shocking, I know). While there are sites like LinkdIn to use for "business" contacts, it's not nearly on the level that Facebook is. However, that doesn't mean you want to or should be mixing business and pleasure. Additionally, some people do try to keep their personal lives separate from the public and/or employment piece, if only to prevent someone using things unrelated to work against them (see the Tiger Woods saga... err... wait, you can't talk about that here... see the growing list of employers who use interns and such to troll for personal details like affiliations and memberships on the internet when considering you for employment).

    Idiots who post pictures of the keg stand from last weekend and make it available to everyone have it coming when a spouse or significant other sees them also making out with the cute blonde who isn't them. A teacher who does not want to or is professionally restricted from being "casual" with students is entirely another. Should a teacher than completely avoid any form of online networking and become the 21st century equivalent of a hermit, on the off chance a student might find them? Or should sites like Facebook comply with common sense, user requests and the law to give users the control over who can see what on their profile? It's not like whatever you post on the site is prevented from being used in data mining operations if you set it to "Friends Only." Facebook can pretend to make money on it's dataset with the user in it.

    It seems like little to ask, just like it's little to ask the old phone book companies to keep your name and address unlisted, or asking to be on the Do Not Call list to cut down solicitations. Not only that, but there is something to be said of the dystopian ideal that all information is free and freely given on the internet. But if it is, when some script kiddy steals your credit card info from a secure site that turns out to be anything but, are you saying, "Fair game, kid. Go spend to your heart's content?" No, you're calling the cops to nail both the little schmuck and the company you did business with to the wall, and then send them away to experience the tenderness of some dude named Butch in a prison shower.

    Plus, do you really want to parrot the likes of Bush and Cheney and other American right-wing idiots by saying, "Let us pry into everything about you. If you're innocent, you should agree that our efforts to catch the 1 out of 50,000,000 who are a threat to you are completely in line." Granted, the UK is now known far and wide as the most frightening example of a self-inflicted police state. Let's hope everyone else can learn from that.

  8. xantastic

    Personally responsibility for my shit ...

    I'm satisfied with the level of privacy that I get on Facebook because I have several tiers of access to my profile that I allow for various groups of people that I friend (or don't). Every time Facebook updates its policy, I have to go and check that my preferences are still in place - so that's what I do.

    I guess if you're upset about your profile pic, you should change it to something innocuous. Other than that, everything else can be hidden to non-friends, and everything on your profile can be restricted to some level to friends in various Friend Lists.

    Total non-issue. I think the real issue was when they started allowing the use of personal photos for adverts to friends ... but I stopped that from my privacy preferences as well.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge


      I agree with you on everything, except facebook NEVER allowed advertisers to use personal photos.

      You can maybe fault Facebook for having an API that let them do it, but it is and was always against facebooks terms and conditions

    2. Paul RND*1000

      Yes it is an issue

      For you, and me, and other people who are paying attention it's a nuisance having to go in and make sure are settings are still as private as they're supposed to be. That's an issue because we shouldn't have to do that in the first bloody place. Facebook should have the decency to respect the settings WE ALREADY CHOSE. But no, every time they fiddle with privacy options they try to make everything more open.

      For the other 99% of FB users, it's very much an issue, whether they care, or notice, or not. FB are being trusted with a lot of sometimes very personal info (much of which should never be on any website anywhere but that's a whole other problem and not exactly Facebook's fault) and have shown that they're perfectly willing to abuse that trust. That's a fucking BIG issue IMHO.

      The other issue is that every time they do this, get pushback, then roll back some "to appease the user base", the line moves just a little in favor of what FB wants. One day those privacy levels you're satisfied with might go away, and too few people will care enough to force FB into a retreat.

    3. JCL


      When did friend become a verb?

  9. Mostor Astrakan

    Oh for crying out loud...`

    This may come as a shock to some of you, but my mother did not name me Mostor, nor is she married to a man named Astrakan. There are several businesses out there with a legitimate reason to know my true name and address, but LiveMyFace is not one of them. Neither is El Reg.

    It's only a frikkin' computer. Lie to it.

  10. \\\

    The old settings were better

    ... as you could remove the add as friend button. My account was locked down tightly and only shared my info to about 30 people in a certain circle of friends.

    Since the new changes, I've been bombarded with friend requests from people I know and like, but I've ignored as they're not in the correct group of drinking mates.

    I just wish the block by email feature excepted wild cards!

  11. lukewarmdog

    Nothing to fear

    Wow the rabid fanbois are out in force this morning.

    Did none of you pay any attention this week? It's a quote by one of the Medusa heads of Google.

    Get over Facebook.. stat.

  12. Barry Tabrah

    Bunch of ungrateful freeloading swines

    It's not like Facebook is charging anyone. It's offering a free service for those who wish to use it. If they want to change their policies then that's their right. After all, it's not like they did it without telling people.

    Ooh, I was a bit cold but now I can almost feel the flames. :)

  13. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    To check what your profile looks like to the world...

    No need to create 'fake' accounts.

    Just go here.

    That link also lets you view your profile as anyone else would see. lets you see what Mr Zuckerberg himself sees! (and before anyone says 'he owns the db, he can see everything blah blah blah yes.. shut-up)

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