By The Hill Staff - 04/27/10 04:56 PM EDT
Schumer's press conference, at which Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) also expressed concerns, arrives not long after Facebook introduced two features that share users' information with third parties.
The first, called "Instant Personalization," allows select websites to cull a user's profile information, unless those users later decline to participate. A second tool, the Open Graph API, permits sites or applications to draw details from Facebook pages to be used in special ads or targeted offers.
Schumer and other lawmakers have railed on those changes since Facebook introduced them, primarily because they say users are automatically opted into the system and must complete a lengthy, complicated process to back out. But they also questioned Facebook's motives during their discussion Tuesday, noting that the social network thrives because it usually permits users more control over their personal content.
"It would be one thing if when Facebook started you knew your information was going to be shared," Franken said. "But this though, there is very private info people put on this that they intend to go only to their friends..."
"What Facebook has done," the senator continued, "is made a decision mid stream, and folks that put information out they may not want to be shared with the entire world are put in a position in which they have to opt out."
Despite lawmakers' recent criticisms, Facebook has stressed repeatedly it hopes to work with members of Congress and other interested parties to address growing concerns about its new features.
"We look forward to meeting with your staff soon to
explain how the collective changes we announced last week will result in
more control for users, not less," Elliot Schrage,
Facebook's vice president of Global Communications, Marketing and Public
Policy, wrote in response to Schumer and other lawmakers on Tuesday. "We also look forward to
answering any questions and alleviating any concerns you or your
colleagues may have."
"We welcome a continued dialogue with you and others because we agree that scrutiny over the handling of personal data is needed as Internet users seek a more social and interactive experience," he continued. "Facebook is a leader in transparency of our policies, notification to our users, and security of their data."