Facebook Releases Information Worldwide

Devin Bartlett, Contributing Writer
Facebook has become an integral part of our social lives. It’s a great way to stay in touch with old friends or make contact with new ones, but with new technology comes new problems. Your friends aren’t the only ones looking at your profile.
Facebook released a report last month showing the number of government requests for information about its users. The report shows that from January 1st to June 30th government groups representing 74 different countries demanded information regarding over 37,000 accounts on Facebook with half of those requests coming from the United States.
Although Facebook says it did not honor all of the requests from countries around the world, they did admit to complying with 79 percent of the 12,000 requests made from American agencies. Facebook noted that the majority of the requests were related to criminal cases like robberies and kidnappings, but in some instances the requests pertained to national security issues.
Colin Stretch, of Facebook’s general counsel, wrote on the company’s web site, “We scrutinize each request for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and require a detailed description of the legal and factual bases for each request.”
While this may sound comforting, we must consider how carefully Facebook users are reading terms and conditions.
When a person signs up for Facebook, they give up the right to their own images and information for use in advertisements. Facebook is even allowed to use the information of minors because when they sign up they not only give their consent but also the consent of their parents. Facebook’s rules state:
“If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) [in advertising].”
Facebook also announced that they will be expanding their use of facial recognition. Until now, someone has had to tag you in a picture, but with the new program Facebook will automatically tag you based off of your other pictures. Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, defended the move to this new program in an interview saying, “It’s actually a good thing to be tagged in more photos, because that’s how you’ll know they exist on Facebook. Then from there, you can take the photos down or, if you need to, report them.”
While this will have the added benefit of notifying you when pictures you don’t want online pop up, some question if this new software isn’t just another way to get your information for ads and government agencies. Either way it’s important to stay vigilant with what you do online and maybe next time you go to click “I accept the terms and conditions,” take the time to read through what exactly you are agreeing to.

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