Federal Trade Commission looks into Facebook’s privacy policy

Federal Trade Commission looks into Facebook's privacy policy (Image 1)

The Federal Trade Commission has questions for Facebook about what they are doing with users' information.

The main issue at hand regards if the social media site can use a person's pictures for advertising purposes.

Under a new privacy policy, the social media site states that a user's profile picture, cover photo and name, among other possible content can be used by Facebook for advertising.

Facebook has since said the new policy is just a clarification of its old policy, however some privacy groups are concerned by the changes.

The FTC is now working to determines whether the updated policy violates a 2011 agreement that stated Facebook had to get a user's explicit consent before giving out information to advertisers.

Facebook, however counters that users gave them permission upon signing up for an account.

“They consider it a free-trade that allows you to use this really cool service that allows you to keep in touch with your friends and family,” explained Associate Professor of Computer Science Dan Arena.

The policy regarding images also applies to children since Facebook assumes parents of kids using the service have also given permission for their names and images to be used in advertising.

“Basically that is how these sites can generate revenue because they have all of this data,” Arena said.

Even if a user's page is set to private, Arena said there is no way to ensure everything is private.

“There's really no way to make everything private other than to create a Facebook account where you have no friends and you're not posting to anybody. That defeats the purpose,” he said.

Facebook's policy remains under review, but Arena said it is not the only social media site users need to watch when it comes to personal information.

“Instagram does not have any advertising,” he said. “Over the next year they're going to incorporate advertising and because Facebook owns Instagram, you can probably guess where their terms of service are going to lead to.”

Click here for more information on Facebook's policy.

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