Posted on | November 16, 2011 | 2 comments
Two federal lawmakers want Facebook to come before Congress to explain how the social media company tracks Web users and why Facebook members got swarmed by pornographic and violent images this week.
Reacting to details of Facebook’s tracking practices disclosed in LastWatchdog’s page 1A story in print editions of USA TODAY, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D – W. Virg., said he intends to invite Facebook and others to a hearing to explain how they are using personal information.
“The USA Today story is disturbing,” says Rockefeller, sponsor of a Do-Not-Track bill that would empower consumers to limit ad networks from tracking where they go online. “No company should track customers without their knowledge or consent, especially a company with 800 million users and a trove of unique personal data on its users.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., who chairs the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, directed her staff to bring in Facebook officials next week for a briefing to learn more about the wave of pornographic and violent images that spread through Facebook’s automated content-sharing systems. “The Chairman is very concerned about what took place and wants to make certain â€“ to the extent possible â€“ that it doesn’t happen again,” says spokesman Ken Johnson.
Among the questions Bono Mack wants answered: How many people were impacted? What actually happened? How did it happen? Could the vulnerability be used to gather users’ personal information? What is Facebook doing to prevent future intrusions?
Noyes pointed out this CNN news story praising how Facebook responded to the systemic attack on its content-sharing technologies. “Protecting the people who use Facebook from spam and malicious content is a top priority for us,” says Noyes. “Our team responded quickly to eliminate most of the spam caused by this incident. We are now working to improve our systems to better defend against similar attacks in the future.”
Joseph Steinberg, CEO of Green Armor Solutions, says that the porn and gore spam attack is another reason users should not rely on Facebook’s security and privacy settings.
â€œFacebook has never been the poster child for security,” Steinberg says. “This situation reinforces that concept. If some form of beach occurred and information that you configured to be viewable by only your friends became viewable by the entire world it is unlikely that Facebook is going to compensate you. But they can gather information about you and advertise to you. In many ways, you are Facebook’s product, not its customer.â€