After confusing and outraging users with a December privacy rollback, Facebook nevertheless saw its traffic reach new heights. So the social network's new campaign to reduce user privacy even further should come as no shock.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg just announced at Facebook's annual "F8" developer conference that it's allowing the outside websites with which it shares user data to hold on to said data. Previously, the partners were supposed to dispose of the information within 24 hours. The crowd of programmers applauded this new move, but the privacy implications are worrisome; as CNET's Caroline McCarthy wrote last night, the company is facing a fresh round of accusations it overshares even as it is aggressively trying to win developers who might otherwise code for Twitter. So the company has both a motive and previously-identified inclination to trade user privacy for support from outside developers (and thus for growth).
Earlier this month, in fact, Facebook took away the option to hide profile data like interests, "likes," work, education, current city and hometown. The Electronic Frontier Foundation raised a red flag about the change, writing, "The new connections features benefit Facebook and its business partners, with little benefit to you. But what are you going to do about it? "
Apparently not much: Despite widespread hue and cry in December, and even a rash of bloggers deleting and deactivating their accounts, Facebook's growth barely paused. In fact it resumed an upward trajectory this year and Facebook is now on track to hit 500 million monthly visitors.
Yes, there are also those class-action suits and complaints to the Federal Trade Commission. But given the puny size of past privacy settlements, neither of those really hit Facebook where it hurts, its growth and its bottom line. Besides, does it sound like Facebook is really scared of rolling back privacy even further?
[Pic: Zuckerberg at the ongoing F8 event today via Getty Images.]