Facebook Adding Privacy Pop-Ups

A Facebook representative told the FCC Wednesday that the company is about to unveil new user tools for managing how members share their online information, during a broadband workshop on online privacy.

Timothy Sparapani, director of public policy, said that the company is about to add a pop-up setting that asks users if they wish to share certain types of information. There will be a moment when a user has to confirm how the data will be shared, he said. In addition, it is instituting a per-project privacy option. That allows users to change their privacy
settings just before a data sharing opportunity, saying the company was forcing the privacy conversation with its own user base.

But he said he thought there was only a fraction of that population that need that forcing, and that most kids are savvy about where there information is going. "Kids get it more than parents suspect they might," he said.

He says that Facebook already informs users when an application takes them to separate site and company. He says there are doom and gloom pop-ups about what could happen. "We definitely let people know in ways kids could understand that this is a choice they are making."

But he also said there were millions of applications and neither Yahoo! nor Google nor anyone else can police all those applications launched through their sites.

He said that consumers "need to read the fine print" on the policies of those applications.

When an FCC staffer asked whether Facebook had any novel ideas about helping the 12-year-old consumer understand the fine print, saying they may think they are still on Facebook rather than a third party.

Sparapani was not conceding that the 12-year-old didn't know that. "We would disagree that is their understanding," he said. But he also said the FTC or Justice should look at those apps.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.