Privacy Advocates Slam Facebook Change

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SAN FRANCISCO, December 10, 2009 (AFP) - Privacy advocates slammed revamped Facebook privacy controls on Thursday, saying the change masks a move to get members to expose more information online."These new privacy changes aren't so great for privacy," said Nicole Ozer, northern California technology and civil liberties policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) rights group."It's great that 350 million people are being asked to think about privacy, but if what Facebook says is true about giving people more control over their information, they have a lot more work to do."Online rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) labeled aspects of Facebook's privacy change "downright ugly."The world's leading online social network fired back, saying its critics are wrong and that time will prove that Facebook is taking "a giant step forward."The controversy came a day after Facebook began requiring users to refine settings with a new software tool that lets them specify who gets to be privy to each piece of content uploaded to the website.While the Facebook privacy overhaul has laudable features, there is a push to get the online community's members to expose information, according to EFF."Facebook's new changes are obviously intended to get people to open up even more of their Facebook data to the public," EFF lawyer Kevin Bankston said in a blog post."The Facebook privacy transition tool is clearly designed to push users to share much more of their Facebook info with everyone, a worrisome development that will likely cause a major shift in privacy level for most of Facebook's users, whether intentionally or inadvertently."Prior to the change, Facebook users could keep everything but their names and networks private.A newly created "public" category at Facebook now includes names, profile pictures, home cities, pages users have joined as "fans," gender and friend lists."There is a whole lot more information that users have no ability to keep private," Ozer noted. …