Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Senator Charles E. Schumer says he would be willing to introduce legislation to ensure privacy of user data

Facebook is the most popular social network online and boasts hundreds of millions of users who visit the site every day to meet up with friends and play games. Facebook is working hard to turn itself into a moneymaking juggernaut and monetize all the traffic it gets.

As Facebook tries to remake itself into a profit-making entity, it has changed its privacy settings numerous times to make more of its users' information available to outside parties and searchable online. The user information allows advertisers to target ads to the specific user groups who would be the most likely to purchase their products.

The changes in privacy policy and privacy settings have upset some users and lawmakers in Washington. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated in the past that people no longer have the same expectations of privacy online. Facebook has also had a number of technical errors that have resulted in user information being exposed inadvertently. One of the most recent was an error that caused private email addresses of users to be viewable by all users. 

Recent changes in privacy settings on the social network have led Senator Charles E. Schumer to ask Facebook to fix its privacy policy that allows user data to be offered to third parties. The Senator believes that the change raises major privacy concerns for millions of Facebook users. Schumer wants Facebook to allow users to block their personal information form access by third party firms without their consent. Schumer believes that the changes made last month to the privacy policy on Facebook will fundamentally affect the relationship between users and the social network.

Schumer said, "Millions of New Yorkers use social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter every day with an expectation that their private information is shared only with those they choose to connect with. These sites have helped reconnect old friends, allow families from far away to stay in touch, and created new friendships; overall they provide a great new way to communicate.

As these sites become more and more popular, however, it’s vitally important that safeguards are in place that provide users with control over their personal information to ensure they don’t receive unwanted solicitations and other nuisances, and that they are not automatically gathered into online groups without their consent,” Schumer continued. “The default policy should be one of privacy, and users should be in control of how they choose to share their information, not the other way around."

Schumer has also expressed concern to the FTC about the collection and sharing of personal data on social networking sites. He asked the FTC Chairman to examine the privacy disclosures of social networking sites to ensure the disclosures aren't misleading or failing to fully disclose how their information will be shared.

The letter Schumer sent to Zuckerberg raised three main concerns; the publicly available data on Facebook about members, third-party data storage, and instant personalization feature. Schumer has also noted that if the FTC doesn't believe it has the authority to issue guidelines on privacy disclosures, that he would be willing to offer legislation.

"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki

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