What Mark Zuckerberg Didn’t Tell Congress

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[Commentary] Ranking Digital Rights that has been analyzing and comparing the commitments and policies of internet, mobile and telecommunications companies affecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy since 2015. Our analysis has consistently found that Facebook discloses fewer details about how it handles users’ personal information than most of its peers. Our forthcoming 2018 Corporate Accountability Index evaluates 12 companies that run some of the world’s most powerful internet and mobile platforms headquartered in the U.S., South Korea, China and Russia. Facebook discloses less information about how the company handles data that can be used to identify, profile or track users than six other companies: Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Oath, Apple and Kakao (a Korean company). While Facebook has simplified and clarified its explanation about what is shared with advertisers and how, the fundamental practices described have not changed. Options for users to delete some types of information are provided, but people are not given more control over what information is collected about them in the first place, or how they are tracked around the internet. People can adjust their settings if they so choose, but they must actively select settings to restrict access. If users do not opt out, information about their online activities, likes and dislikes is shared by default with advertisers seeking to target them. What’s more, based on the policies that have been in effect since we started tracking in 2015, and which remain in force today (the new ones are not yet implemented), our researchers have consistently found that Facebook gives users fewer options to control what is collected about them, and how it is used, than any other internet or mobile platform company evaluated in the Index—including two Chinese companies and two Russian companies.

[Rebecca MacKinnon is director of the Ranking Digital Rights program at New America]


What Mark Zuckerberg Didn’t Tell Congress