Technology: Facebook in privacy storm

Social networking giant is urged by PR professionals to be more transparent.

PR professionals have advised Facebook to be far more transparent about its privacy settings, after the social networking behemoth recently encountered a storm of criticism.

Facebook has seen a media backlash following a series of privacy breaches and last week's announcement that it was set to launch its new privacy policy. The policy changes will require users to opt out of sharing certain data held on the site.

Lansons Communications head of digital Christian Mahne said: 'The PR damage comes from the very public reversals Facebook is now considering, but on the other hand it is better off ditching a terrible policy than clinging on to it.

'A classic case of being damned if you do and damned if you don't.'

Rocket Communications MD Pete Hendrick said: 'From a PR perspective, Facebook simply needs to avoid grey areas around user privacy. It needs to clearly tell users what its current data policies and future plans are, and give individuals the choice to stay or leave.'

The backlash in the media is expected to prompt the site to readdress the policy issues.

A spokeswoman for Facebook said: 'Users appreciate having precise and comprehensive controls, but want them to be simpler and easier to use.

'We're listening to this input and incorporating it into innovations we hope to announce shortly.'

Timeline

May 2010: Facebook launches new privacy policy

May 2010: Facebook fixes security flaw that allowed users to eavesdrop on the live chats of their friends

December 2009: The privacy policy was updated, which allowed 'friend lists' to appear publically without users being informed and with no option to opt out

August 2009: Facebook agrees to make worldwide changes to its privacy policy

February 2009: Facebook returns to previous terms of service regarding user data following user complaints

May 2008: Canadian privacy group files a complaint against Facebook accusing it of violating privacy laws

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