UPDATED: Facebook Misses Ireland's Privacy Deadline

Remember the long list of privacy objectives Facebook promised Ireland's Office of the Data Protection Commissioner it would implement by the end of the first quarter of 2012? Well, it's now the second quarter of 2012.

Remember the long list of privacy objectives Facebook promised Ireland’s Office of the Data Protection Commissioner it would implement by the end of the first quarter of 2012? Well, it’s now the second quarter of 2012.
The DPC told Austrian group Europe Versus Facebook, which raised its concerns about the social network’s privacy policies with the government agency last year, that Facebook will not face consequences for missing the deadline, and that it would work with the company to reach a solution by the end of April, ZDNet’s Friending Facebook blog reported.
UPDATED: A Facebook spokesperson responded:

Facebook Ireland is investing a huge amount of effort to ensure that we are making progress against all of the commitments we made during the audit. We have a constant dialog with officials working for the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, who are responsible for overseeing the work we are undertaking, to reassure them of our progress. We recently reported to them that we have implemented some of their recommendations ahead of schedule, and that we expect to meet all of the first-quarter aspirations over the coming weeks.

The issue of privacy will always be a thorny one for a social network closing in on 1 billion users, and policies that satisfy everyone are impossible to accomplish, but keeping regulators pacified would be a good start. Facebook seems to be moving in that direction.
Here is the list of privacy measures Facebook promised in a detailed December audit to the DPC to implement during the first quarter of this year:

  1. Facebook will begin phasing in the ability for users to delete friend requests, pokes, tags, posts, and messages on a per-item basis, with the hopes of showing demonstrable progress by a review in July.
  2. Facebook will move the option to exercise control over social ads to users’ privacy settings from account settings, in order to improve accessibility and knowledge of the ability to block or control ads users do not wish to see again.
  3. Facebook will provide users with information on what happens to deleted or removed content, such as friend requests received, pokes, groups, and tags.
  4. Facebook will work with the DPC to simplify explanations of the data-use policy, identify a mechanism for users to choose how their personal data are used, and provide easier accessibility and prominence of these policies during and subsequent to registration, including the use of test-groups of users and non-users.
  5. Facebook will clarify its data-use policy to ensure full transparency.
  6. Facebook will provide additional information on how log-in activity from different browsers across different machines and devices is recorded in its revised data-use policy.
  7. Facebook agreed that it will no longer be possible for a user to be recorded as a member of a group without that user’s consent. Users will not be recorded as members until they accept invitations, and they will be able to easily leave groups.
  8. Facebook will work toward reviewing alternatives to mobile transmission of user data, as well as educating users about the fact that their details are transmitted in plain text when they synch their contact information from mobile devices.
  9. Even though it should be obvious to users that their synchronized data still exists after synching is disabled, Facebook will add text to that effect .
  10. Facebook immediately geo-blocked the major European Union domains so that messages from pages could not be sent to the vast majority of the social network’s EU users and nonusers, and will further refine information and warnings for businesses using the ability to upload up to 5,000 contact email addresses for page contact purposes.
  11. Facebook will add information to its policy clarifying that it acts as a data controller and information generated by use of Facebook Credits is linked to users’ accounts. The social network will also launch a privacy policy for its payments systems in approximately six months.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.