A Senate panel reserved angry words for Facebook executives for the social networking giant’s apparent failure in preventing under-age people from having access to the network.
The Senate panel, which held a hearing with top Facebook executives, heard comments like Mark Zuckerberg lacked social values, that the teenage founder was focused on his business model, and that the company employs very few people for monitoring the posts made by hundreds of millions of users.
It is also reported that lawmakers are thinking about enacting more stringent laws to protect online privacy and to prevent young children getting exposed to possible online security violations.
It was revealed recently in a survey that as many as 7.5 million Facebook users were younger than 13, the age bar Facebook has set for anyone accessing the network.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller particularly came hard on Zuckerberg, suggesting that the tech wizard didn’t care for social values.
I think he was focused on how the business model would work ... He wanted to make it bigger and faster and better than anybody else ever had, Rockefeller said.
Pointing out that Facebook paid scant attention to monitoring the billions of posts in the site, Rockefeller said this apathy is putting children in danger. He said by allowing under-age children access to the site and not monitoring what is taking place over there, children are exposed to sexual predators.
I want you to defend your company here because I don't know how you can, the Senator told a Facebook top executive who attended the hearing.
Senator John Kerry, who is introducing new online privacy legislation along with Republican Senator John McCain, said a new privacy standard is needed to address new concerns in the wake of revelations that Apple iPhone and Android phones collect user location data.
However, technology executives who attended the hearing defended their policies. They adopted a two-pronged approach to defend themselves, saying that too much legislation will hurt innovation and that essentially social web is founded on the principle of trust.
Facebook Chief Technology Officer Bret Taylor put it this way: Trust is the foundation of the social web. People will stop using Facebook if they lose trust in our services.
The Kerry-McCain legislation seeks to make data automatically private and then allow users to share whatever they pick and choose. This, it is argued, will help protect the privacy of minors. Currently the users can opt-in for privacy protections.
According a Wall Street Journal report as many as 47 of the top 100 iPhone and Android apps gave away user location data to third parties. This was mostly done keeping the users in the dark.
While technologically ending the location-based service is unthinkable and not even the most ardent consumer rights advocacy groups will favor such a blanket ban, the question is how tech companies can protect people from the vagaries of unrestrained sharing o user data.