Facebook’s Censorship Problem

Facebook recently removed a photo of two men kissing from a user's Wall due to an apparent violation of the site's terms of service. This act of censorship has received considerable attention, and while it is reasonable for Facebook to try to control some of the content shared on its platform, there are some fundamental concerns with this case that point to a growing censorship problem within Facebook, especially when considered against the backdrop of Facebook's potential entry into China.

Amici Brief to Judge in WikiLeaks-Twitter Case: Protect Users’ Fourth Amendment Privacy Interests

In December 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice subpoenaed Twitter for information on several people associated with WikiLeaks, seeking the users' full contact details (phone numbers and addresses), account payment method if any (credit card and bank account number), IP…

PostPref: A Facebook App to Help Manage Photo Privacy

A number of years ago, Daniel Howe and Helen Nissenbaum at New York University developed and released TrackMeNot, a lightweight Firefox browser extension that protects users against search data profiling by issuing randomized queries to popular search-engines with fake data.…

Facebook Data of 1.2 Million Users from 2005 Released: Limited Exposure, but Very Problematic

Recently, a Facebook dataset was released consisting of the complete set of users from the Facebook networks at 100 American institutions, and all of the in-network “friendship” links between those users as they existed at a single moment of time in September 2005. Surprisingly, it initially included each users unique Facebook ID, meaning the presumed "anonymous" dataset could be easily re-identified, potentially putting the personal information of 1.2 million Facebook users at risk.

Debrief: Internet Research 11.0 Conference (Gothenburg, Sweden)

Last week I attended Internet Research 11.0: Sustainability, Participation, Action, the 11th annual  conference for the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), in Gothenburg, Sweden. This is the conference I look forward to the most each year, thanks to the steady…

Facebook Places Privacy Falls Short, Part 2: Opting-Out

A few days ago I blogged about how I was able to check my wife into a local liquor store using Facebook Places without her permission, despite Facebook's insistence that "No one can be checked in to a location without their explicit permission". This check-in has remained visible in my news feed, and depending on my privacy settings, may be viewable by any logged in Facebook user. Presumably there also is a database at Facebook that contains a record of my checking-in my wife into this location. Again, all without my wife's explicit consent to participating in this new "feature". Now, four days later, my wife had a chance to react to the notification she received from Facebook regarding my tagging her, and I thought I'd share a few more reactions to her attempt to opt-out of Places altogether.

Facebook Places Privacy Falls Short: Non-Authorized Check-Ins by Friends are Visible

Facebook has finally launched its location-based service: Places. Places allows Facebook users to "check in" wherever they are using a mobile device, and let's their friends know where they are at the moment. Facebook has tried to do a better job addressing privacy with Places compared to previous launches of new "features". Particularly, Facebook brags that "no location information is associated with a person unless he or she explicitly chooses to become part of location sharing. No one can be checked in to a location without their explicit permission." But as I've played around with the service, I've uncovered a problem with Facebook's assertion that "no one can be checked in to a location without their explicit permission."

SACHRP Presentation: Research Ethics in the 2.0 Era: Conceptual Gaps for Ethicists, Researchers, IRBs

On Wednesday, July 21, 2010, I will be presenting in front of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP), part of the Office for Human Research Protections in the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). My presentation will focus on how Web 2.0 tools, environments, and experiences are creating new conceptual gaps in our understanding of privacy, anonymity/identifiability, consent, and harm.

OpEd: How to Win Friends and Manipulate People

In response to recent Facebook privacy fiascoes -- the privacy upgrade downgrade and inevitable backtracking, Zuckerberg's (and other exec's) various ill-informed remarks, etc, etc -- I've co-authored an op-ed with Chris Hoofnagle, the director of information privacy programs at the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law & Technology, where we criticize Facebook's "perfection of privacy public relations." The piece appears in The Huffington Post, and is titled "How to Win Friends and Manipulate People". Here's an excerpt: These events represent the perfection of privacy public relations. Guided by earlier battles fought by tobacco and drug companies, information-intensive firms have learned how to use rhetoric to distract the public while successfully implementing new programs. They are the Machiavellis of privacy.

Baym: Facebook’s Views on Privacy are “Fundamentally Naive and Utopian”

GigaOm highlights an interview with Nancy Baym, associate professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas and author of Personal Connections in the Digital Age, on the limitations in Facebook's approach to privacy. The interview covers various important issues,…