Facebook is under fire for its privacy issues — yet again. But this time, the social media giant is passing the blame around to its users. Apparently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in its complaint filed back in December last year accused Facebook of failing to protect sensitive data in its closed health groups.
The FTC in its complaint said that the company nudged its users to join its closed health groups. It then marketed and leaked the information collected from the users in these health groups as a “Personal Health Record”, which in some cases was contrary to the privacy claims made by some groups on the platform, thus violating the privacy of the users in these groups.
Following the complaint, that was released in public earlier this week, US the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce chairman Frank Pallone sent an open letter to Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg inviting him for a staff briefing regarding the company’s latest privacy scandal. The committee in its letter explained that people in these groups shared deeply personal health information, “such as information about substance use disorder, about the challenges of parenting transgender children, HIV status, and past history of sexual assault.”
“Despite the indications that the groups were private and anonymous, people and companies who should not have admitted to these groups gained access to them and to list of group members. People used the member lists and other information from these groups to target and harass members of the groups. Insurance companies may have used information from these private groups to make decision about insurance offerings for group members,” the US wrote in its letter to Zuckerberg.
Now, Facebook has responded to its latest privacy issue. But this time around, instead of going on defense, the company has decided to pass the blame on to its users. “Facebook is not an anonymous platform; real-name identity is at the center of the experience and always has been. It’s intentionally clear to people that when they join any group on Facebook, other members of that group can see that they are a part of that community, and can see the posts they choose to share with that community,” Facebook said in a statement to the US-based media channels.
“There is value in being able to know who you’re having a conversation with in a group, and we look forward to briefing the committee about how these products work,” the company added.