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Facebook lobbied by privacy activists

Two advocacy groups urge social media firm to drop proposed policy changes

Facebook lobbied by privacy activists
The recent proposals had generated more than 17,000 comments by late yesterday.

Two privacy rights organisations yesterday asked Facebook Inc to reconsider its plans to change its terms of service saying the social media company was in violation of prior commitments to its users and the FTC, Reuters reported.

Under the new terms Facebook would be able to share user data with affiliates such as recently acquired Instagram. The company would also be free to abandon its voting system and change the way account holders permit others to contact them through the social network.

Although a community vote would be automatically triggered by the receipt of 7,000 public comments against its proposals within a seven-day period, Facebook would not be bound by the result of the poll unless more than 30% of its roughly 1 billion users took part. Reuters said the recent proposals had generated more than 17,000 comments by late yesterday.

According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy the Facebook's proposed changes violate its previous commitments and create risks to members' privacy.

"Facebook's proposed changes implicate the user privacy and terms of a recent settlement with the Federal Trade Commission," the groups said in a letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.

In April, Facebook came under scrutiny from the FTC, which accused the company of deceiving its users into revealing more personal information than they had intended. As part of the settlement, the company is bound to a 20-year term of independent audits and is required to obtain permission from users before making changes to privacy settings.

"As our company grows, we acquire businesses that become a legal part of our organization," Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in an emailed statement yesterday.

"Those companies sometimes operate as affiliates. We wanted to clarify that we will share information with our affiliates and vice versa, both to help improve our services and theirs, and to take advantage of storage efficiencies," Noyes said.

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