By Byron Acohido, USA TODAY
Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes says Timeline and the new Open Graph applications are intended to make it easier for users to share music and other content with their friends.
He acknowledged that Facebook does use tracking cookies to monitor and correlate users' Web page visits, just as Google, Microsoft and other operators of online advertising networks and analytics firms commonly do. He says Facebook does so responsibly. "If someone doesn't want an app story to be seen by their friends, we offer numerous controls both before and after the fact," says Noyes. "They can choose not take the action on Facebook, remove it from their Timeline, delete it completely, change their privacy settings, or disconnect from the app at anytime."
Noyes insists that "all the sharing is opt in and easily controllable. "
Ten U.S. consumer and privacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, today joined Reps. Ed Markey, D- Mass., and Joe Barton, R-Tex., in calling on the Federal Trade Commission to launch a formal investigation of Facebook's practice of collecting and using data about its users Internet activities.
At issue is Facebook's alleged practice of using its Like button, and other mechanisms, integrated into partner Web pages all across the Web, to track its members Web surfing patterns and preferences for news, entertainment and personal topics.
Privacy concerns heightened last week after Facebook launched new features that incorporate such tracking data. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the annual f8 developers conference in San Francisco last week by introducing "Timeline" pages that digitally maps everything a user has ever done on the popular social network. And he also unveiled a new class of "Open Graph"applications designed to broadcast user's surfing patterns and interests to friends and friends of friends all across Facebook's user base of 800 million members around the world.
"The new 'Frictionless Sharing' features are just more examples of Facebook disregarding the privacy of its users by making sweeping changes that expose personal information without giving users the chance to choose what information they want shared with the world," said Laura Antonini, research attorney at Consumer Watchdog.