Henry Farrell: Facebook wasn’t great at respecting privacy in the first place. It’s gotten much worse.

Andrew Young — August 21, 2015

In his latest post at The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, Network member Henry Farrell reflects on a new study released by Jennifer Shore and Jill Steinman, two undergraduate students at Harvard, on changes to Facebook’s privacy policy over the years.

Farrell not only agrees with the Shore and Steinman’s analysis that the quality of Facebook’s privacy policy has degraded, but also sees no reason to belief that this decline in quality will change course going forward.

“After Facebook issued a weak set of privacy policies in 2008, it encountered sharp criticism from privacy watchdog organizations and ordinary users. This led it to improve its standards again with a revised set of standards in November 2009. However, since then there has been a stark downward trend. By Shore and Steinman’s measures, Facebook’s privacy standards today are much worse than the much-criticized 2009 standards.

Furthermore, there is little reason to think that Facebook has any intention of improving them. Facebook has grown dramatically in size and market power since 2009, and, according to Shore and Steinman, doesn’t seem especially responsive to pressure either from advocacy groups or regulators. Overall, they find that Facebook’s standards for privacy drop in 22 of the 33 areas that they study.”

Read the full post here.