Politicians Finally Notice Facebook Can Be Sneaky

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Some are concerned about Facebook's transparency.

    Facebook got a big "dislike" from four U.S. senators on Tuesday, with a denunciation of the site's new "Instant Personalization" feature.

    New York's Charles Schumer sent a letter to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, expressing concern about the site's tendency to share more data than users may realize.

    Schumer doesn't have a Facebook profile of his own, but the other senators on the bill do. Joining him were Michael Bennet of Colorado (whose page boasts 4,611 fans), Alaska's Mark Begich (1,575 fans and nothing on his wall), and Minnesota's Al Franken (59,172 fans).

    At issue is how Facebook gives out information about its users to certain sites such as Pandora, Yelp, and notoriously unsafe Microsoft. Although the companies insist that they're being transparent about the sharing, the senators claim that it's not clear enough, especially with all the blinking lights and diodes and website-mouse-clicks on those infernal modern computing devices.

    Sharing data between sites is nothing new. It's a technology generally referred to as an "API," a type of interface that allows, for example, Twitter users to download the client of their choice for tweeting from their iPhone. But the hyperventilation in this case stems from the clarity of Facebook's disclosure: the site simply automatically shares the data, rather than asking users to opt-in first.

    That's what the senators want changed, especially since the opting-out process is currently "long and complicated."

    A Facebook spokesman responded that "further dialogue" was likely on the subject.