Did Facebook’s privacy change proposal go too far?

Is this the moment when changes to the Facebook privacy settings actually launch a mass exodus from the world’s top social media network? We’ve heard folks bemoan the different changes to the default settings on Facebook before, but this is different. Could this be the tipping point?

What am I talking about?

On Thursday, August 29, 2013, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer issued the document: Proposed Updates to our Governing Documents.

Why is it different this time?

You know how previous roll-outs of privacy changes basically just reset the default settings in a manner that tended to favor the big blue “f”? Well this one goes one step further; by removing the ability for users to limit those privacy settings for commercial use altogether.

The screenshot below is from Section 10 of the proposed Statement of Rights and Responsibilities:

Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities Section 10

In case it is difficult to read, the following text is crossed out for proposed removal from the current user agreement:

“You can use your privacy settings to limit how your name and profile picture may be associated with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us.”


“subject to the limits you place”

Did you catch that?

By continuing to use Facebook, if the proposed changes are accepted, all users would be giving up the right to limit advertisers from utilizing our names, profile pictures, content, and information for marketing purposes. Forcing users to manually lock down our information is one thing, but getting rid of all of the locks and throwing away all the keys? That’s kind of a big deal.

Facebook is asking for users to read and respond to this proposal directly at the link above. As you might imagine, much of the initial feedback has been negative, with many users threatening to leave altogether. In a network of 1,150,000,000 people (yes, that’s 1.15 billion), how many users would need to jump ship to register this as a significant blunder from the almighty king of social media? A million? Ten million? 100 million?!?!? That’s not even 10%.

I guess we’ll all find out soon enough.

UPDATED September 9, 2013: Please see updates in the comments below.