Facebook has published a blog post today in response to a report criticising the company’s privacy policies, but the responses are not likely to win any fans.
The Facebook bug affected only “a few people”
The report, from the independent Belgian Privacy Commission, says the company made it impossible for some users to opt out of tracking, or tracked users that had never used the social media site. In essence, the report says that consumers have not been able to make their own decisions about their data due to the company’s practices. The identified issues could have implications for how the company operates in the EU, but Facebook’s responses seem to argue merely over semantics.
As an example, the social media giant says a claim from the report suggests there’s no way for users to opt out of “social ads”, but Facebook argues that “users can opt-out from appearing in so-called Social Ads”.
The Wall Street Journal points out that Facebook substitutes the term “tracking” for “web impressions”.
The researchers in the report say that Facebook’s social plug-ins, which many other sites use, often tracked users that didn’t use the plug-ins, were not even logged into Facebook, and didn’t even have an account.
Facebook counters by saying that a “bug” affected a few users and would be fixed. The report however, says the problem may be more widespread.
“Facebook’s ‘Like Button,’ the most popular social plug-in, is currently present on more than 13 million sites, covering almost all website categories including health and government websites.”