Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen is demanding that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answer questions regarding the possible misuse of about 50 million Facebook profiles, according to a press release from the CT Office of the Attorney General, sent out March 26.
Facebook is being accused of giving away unauthorized personal user data to third party software developers through terms and services that could come across as misleading to users, according to The National Association of Attorney Generals.
"The situation involving Facebook...raises significant concerns about Facebook's policies and practices relating to user privacy, as well as the truthfulness and clarity of representations made to users concerning the uses of their data," Jepsen said in the press release. "We take this very seriously and are collectively engaging Facebook to get to the bottom of what happened and to ensure that these privacy concerns are addressed."
Jepsen and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro are co-leading a bipartisan coalition of 37 other states, according to the press release
"Businesses like Facebook must comply with the law when it comes to how they use their customers' personal data," Shapiro said in the press release. "State Attorneys General have an important role to play in holding them accountable and I'm proud to partner with so many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in this effort.”
In the press release, the coalition requested answers to questions, including whether the terms were clear to users, how Facebook monitored what developers did with the data, what type of controls Facebook had over the data given to developers and when Facebook learned of the breach of privacy protections.
Julie Abramowitz, a second-semester political science major, said she had questions of her own for the online social media services.
“I do not have much to hide, but if Facebook is admitting to seeing more than they need to, more than they are telling us they do, then who else has access to my personal information?” Abramowitz said. “How will the leak of my information affect my future life? If these third-party users can see my likes and dislikes and know who's calling, can they see my credit card information I use on other sites? Can they read my private emails and listen to my phone calls?”
The coalition asked Facebook to more clearly address privacy concerns for users and explicitly state where open data may go, according to the press release.
Even if all governmental requests are met by Facebook, Austin Beaudoin, a sixth-semester political science major, predicts a long road ahead for Facebook to regain the trust of its users.
“The Facebook data breach has been a wake-up call to American consumers and politicians that the tech industry, regardless of how they attempt to frame themselves as above corporations in other sectors of the economy, are nevertheless profit-driven entities that must be meaningfully regulated by the government,” Beaudoin said. “AGs demanding Facebook to more significantly address these concerns is magnified by the initial failures of Facebook to limit the fallout of this scandal, most visibly Zuckerberg’s decision not to testify in front of Congress.”
Lillian Whittaker is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.