Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Facebook Agrees to Change 'Friend Finder' Feature

Under pressure from the German government, the social networking site Facebook has agreed to make a major concession due to privacy concerns. The company says it will no longer automatically e-mail invitations to join the site through services like Google Mail when a person uses the controversial "Friend Finder" feature.

Data protection officials in Germany have won a stage victory over the Internet giant Facebook and its head Mark Zuckerberg. Responding to official complaints, the company has agreed to make far-reaching changes to its controversial "Friend Finder" service.

Until now, people have received e-mails inviting them to join Facebook, even if they had never before had anything to do with the social network. Particularly disturbing for many of the recipients of such invitations, the mails often included images of people they knew.

"For many, it wasn't clear at all how Facebook could know that they knew certain members of the social network in real life," says Johannes Caspar, who handles data protection issues for the city-state of Hamburg. In response to the concerns, his office initiated proceedings against Facebook.

Of particular concern was the methods the social network used to acquire new members. If a Facebook member allowed to company access to his or her e-mail address book, the platform was able to use that information to send out invitations to potential new members.

To read more: http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,741027,00.html

Source photo: DPA / http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,741027,00.html

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