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Facebook and Google Under Fire

May 26, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Facebook is making its latest in a string of efforts to regain the trust of members concerned about the security of personal information on the site. The social media giant will reportedly simplify privacy control settings. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center is watching the drama unfold.

"But I think that strategy may not work this time. I think there's a new level of anger and concern about Facebook."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has admitted his company made, in his words, "a bunch of mistakes." However, Rotenberg believes Facebook has emerged as a powerful tool for social change, and to shun it because of concerns over privacy would be foolish.

"I think it's a mistake for people to think that somehow they should boycott or turn off these services. They should be actively engaged, expressing their views and talking about how to make them better."

With Facebook closing in on 500 million users worldwide, it has only a handful of competitors with meager resources. Google, in only 12 years, has become an Internet behemoth, so Rotenberg says his group and other watchdogs must remain vigilant.

"If we reach a situation, for example, where Facebook really is the only social network service or Google really does dominate all the essential services on the internet, there just won't be much choice."

On Tuesday, Rotenberg's group called for a Federal Communications Commission investigation into Google's Street View camera cars which gathered data about private citizens' Wi-Fi hot spots.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY