Facebook has recently changed the way it gets permission to share personal user information with third-party apps and games, and the move could get the popular social networking site in quite a bit of trouble across the pond.
A German consumer advocacy group is threatening to sue Facebook if it doesn’t provide users with a clear choice on whether they agree to share their personal info. In case you didn’t notice, Facebook kind-of sort-of dropped the “Allow” and “Don’t Allow” options used in choosing whether to share personal information with a game or app, and this has sparked the ire of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations. Avi Charkham, co-founder of MyPermissions, addresses this and other design elements in the new Facebook makeover that he criticizes for a lack of transparency regarding the surrender of personal information.
He’s not the only one who has noticed, either. David Jacobs, consumer protection fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that “Facebook will push the concept of consent to the breaking point.”
Now sure, Facebook will keep mining for our personal information and finding ways to fatten the bottom line. It’s business. But when does it become an invasion of privacy? Facebook’s defense that by playing a game, a user is willingly surrendering personal data is misleading and disingenuous. Facebook is dancing on the edge of a razor, and we predict that the German lawsuit will prove the first of many if Facebook doesn’t make clearer the app center’s disclosure agreements.