Consumer Reports issued this scary report today on Facebook privacy and it reinforces what we already know, which is that Facebook is a giant privacy sieve. Noting that Facebook has "labyrinthian policies and controls," the report walks through a litany of dangers that face users if they don't adequately protect their Facebook accounts, from biometric privacy invasions (from Tag Suggest which scans your face for recognition) to IRS snooping to surveillance by criminals.
Consumer Reports focused on Facebook not only because it's a giant, but also because the company is about to reap riches from an upcoming IPO. What better way to kick the company into cleaning up its privacy act than to issue a highly publicized report on the eve of a public offering . It seems to have worked - CR notes that " even as this article went to press, the company announced that it would offer users greater access to records of their past Facebook activity."
Facebook probably also doesn't want to be the prime bad guy during next week's Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the need for new legislation that mandates baseline privacy protections. Jeff Jarvis laments the publication of the Consumer Reports article precisely because he thinks it will spark a "moral panic" and make it easier to usher in bad regulations. Tune into next week's hearing to see just how often the CR report is cited.
Picture credit: Datavisualization.org.