Facebook v. Europe

Friday, February 03, 2012


Europe has long taken a harder line towards global internet companies who make privacy incursions against their users and Facebook is no exception.  In the last few months, a couple of high-profile cases have seen European privacy fears realized.  We asked Marketplace reporter Christopher Werth to talk to a few of the people in Europe who’ve run up against Facebook recently to see if their experiences might tell us something about Facebook’s prospective practices in the US. 

The Outside Joke - My Mom’s on Facebook

Comments [3]

Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Given that under European Law an organisation has an obligation to delete data that it has on someone (unless it is evidence of a crime, needed for regulatory reasons, a matter of national security, etc) I'm surprised that FB got away with keeping posts that your interviewee deleted.

Feb. 08 2012 06:21 AM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


Any data about you can be abused.

Why, for example, do we have secret ballots in elections? The answer is to stop people being intimidated. Let us look a couple of examples:

1. In 19th Century Britain voting was, until 1872[1] done by a show of hands. As voting tended to be carried out in the workplace, those that voted a different way to their boss may find themselves out of a job.

2. In the old Soviet Union they did hold elections. They weren't free and fair. Each candidate had their own coloured card. Anyone who picked a card of a colour that was not for the official candidate was probably "interviewed" by the KGB.

Let's look at another scenario:

A person clicks "Like" on an article about cancer and that is posted. That seems innocuous. However, it may cause those reading that stream to conclude that that person has cancer. You know the old saying, "There's no smoke without fire"?

If they have cancer then it could, in effect, mean that the privacy of their medical records is broken. If they don't then it could mean that people unfairly think they are lying when they state that they don't have cancer. They may face personal consequences and, if their employer is not a good one, they may even lose their job if their employer worries about the impact of an extended period sickness on the business.

Even worse, it may mean that conmen target that person to sell fake cancer treatment.

[1] See http://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=8736&articleaction=print for date

Feb. 07 2012 09:32 AM
Brenda from New York City

I get that “Facebook is invading my privacy” has become a rallying cry, but I’m not entirely sure why. What exactly are people putting in their profiles or on their pages? Why do they feel so protective of their “likes?” Is it that they don’t want to contribute to someone else making money? I try and figure it out here: http://heresheisboys.com/2012/02/05/u-nidentifiedf-acebooko-bjections/

Feb. 05 2012 10:27 AM

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