Criticism of Facebook
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) identified two personal
information aggregation techniques, called "connections" and "instant
personalization," which assure that anyone has access even to personal
information that you may not have intended to be publicly available. (EFF article)
The following article outlines some of the criticisms of Facebook over the years since its inception.
Widening Exposure of Member information between 2011 - 2012.
You create a "Connection" to most of the things that you click a "Like button" for, and Facebook will treat those relationships as public information. For example, if you "Like" a Page on Facebook, that then creates a public connection.  If you Like a movie or restaurant on a non-Facebook website (and if that site is using Facebook's OpenGraph system), that creates a public connection either to the applicable Page on Facebook or to the affiliated website.
It notes that "For users that have not opted out, Instant Personalization is instant data leakage. As soon as you visit the sites in the pilot program (Yelp, Pandora, and Microsoft Docs) the sites can access your name, your picture, your gender, your current location, your list of friends, all the Pages you have Liked — everything that Facebook classifies as public information. Even if you opt-out of Instant Personalization, there's still data leakage if your friends use these "Instant Personalization websites" — their activities can give away information about you unless you block those applications individually." Of course, this can be challenging to do.
Earlier IssuesIn August 2007, the code which was used to generate Facebook's home and search page as visitors browse the site was accidentally made public, according to various leading news sites. A configuration issue on a Facebook server caused the PHP code to be displayed instead of the web page that the code should have created, which raised concerns about how to secure private data on the site was. At least one visitor to the site copied, published, and later removed the code from his web forum, claiming that he had been served and threatened with legal notice by Facebook. Facebook's response was quoted by the site that broke the story:
small fraction of the code that displays Facebook web pages was exposed
to a small number of users due to a single misconfigured web server that
was fixed immediately. It was not a security breach and did not
compromise user data in any way. Because the code that was released
powers only Facebook user interface, it offers no useful insight into
the inner workings of Facebook. The reprinting of this code violates
several laws and we ask that people not distribute it further.
On December 1, Facebook's credibility in regard to the Beacon program was tested further when it was reported that the New York Times "essentially accuse[d]" Mark Zuckerberg of lying to The New York Times and leaving Coca-Cola, which is reversing course on the program, a similar impression. A security engineer at CA, Inc. also claimed in a November 29, 2007 blog post that Facebook collected data from affiliate sites even when the consumer opted out and even when not logged into the Facebook site. On November 30, 2007, the CA security blog posted a Facebook clarification statement addressing the use of data collected in the Beacon program:
|“||When a Facebook user takes a Beacon-enabled action on a participating site, information is sent to Facebook in order for Facebook to operate Beacon technologically. If a Facebook user clicks 'No, thanks' on the partner site notification, Facebook does not use the data and deletes it from its servers. Separately, before Facebook can determine whether the user is logged in, some data may be transferred from the participating site to Facebook. In those cases, Facebook does not associate the information with any individual user account, and deletes the data as well.||”|
News Feed and Mini-Feed
On September 5, 2006, Facebook introduced two new features. These were called "News Feed" and "Mini-Feed". The first of the two new features, News Feed, now appears on every Facebook member's home page, displaying recent Facebook activities of the member's friends. The second feature, Mini-Feed, keeps a log of similar events on each member's profile page. Members can manually delete items from their Mini-Feeds if they wish to do so, and through privacy settings can control what is actually published in their respective Mini-Feeds.
Some Facebook members still feel that the ability to opt-out of the entire News Feed and Mini-Feed system is necessary, as evidenced by a statement from the Students Against Facebook News Feed group, which had peaked at over 740,000 members in 2006. Reacting to users' concerns, Facebook developed new privacy features to give users some control over information about them which was broadcast by the News Feed. According to subsequent news articles, members have widely regarded the additional privacy options as an acceptable (but not perfect) compromise.
In December 2009, Facebook removed the privacy controls for the News Feed and Mini-Feed. This change made it impossible for users to control what activities are published on their walls (and consequently the public news feed). Since users can post anything they want, this allowed people to post things that could target certain groups of people or abuse other users through other means.
In May 2010, Facebook added privacy controls and streamlined its privacy settings, giving users more ways to manage status updates and other information that is broadcast to the public News Feed.
Among the new privacy settings is the ability to control who sees each new status update a user posts: Everyone, Friends of Friends, or Friends Only. Users can now hide each status update from specific people as well. However, a user who presses "like" or comments on the photo or status update of a friend cannot prevent that action from appearing in the news feeds of all the users' friends, even non-mutual ones. The "View As" option, used to show a user how privacy controls filter out what a specific given friend can see, only displays the user's timeline and gives no indication that items missing from the timeline may still be showing up in the friend's own news feed.
Cooperation with government search requests (Facebook and Privacy)
Government and local authorities rely on Facebook and other social networks to investigate crimes and obtain evidence to help establish a crime, provide location information, establish motives, prove and disprove alibis, and reveal communications. Federal, state, and local investigations have not been restricted to profiles that are publicly available or willingly provided to the government; Facebook has willingly provided information in response to government subpoenas or requests, except with regard to private, unopened inbox messages less than 181 days old, which require a warrant and a finding of probable cause under federal law.
During July 2011, Israeli authorities, aided by Facebook, prevented several pro-Palestinian activists, who "announced on their Internet sites that they planned to come [t]here and cause disruptions, and told their friends", from boarding Tel Aviv-bound flights in Europe by "contact[ing] other foreign ministries and simply giv[ing] them links".
Complaint from the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC)
The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), per Director Phillipa Lawson, filed a 35-page complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner against Facebook on May 31, 2008, based on 22 (yes, twenty two!) breaches of the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). University of Ottawa law students Lisa Feinberg, Harley Finkelstein, and Jordan Eric Plener, initiated the "minefield of privacy invasion" suit. Facebook's Chris Kelly contradicted the claims, saying that: "We've reviewed the complaint and found it has serious factual errors — most notably its neglect of the fact that almost all Facebook data is willingly shared by users." Assistant Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham released a report of her findings on July 16, 2009. In it, she found that several of CIPPIC's complaints were well-founded. Facebook agreed to comply with some, but not all, of her recommendations. The Assistant Commissioner found that Facebook did not do enough to ensure users granted meaningful consent for the disclosure of personal information to third parties and did not place adequate safeguards to ensure unauthorized access by third-party developers to personal information.
However, the policy was later updated and currently states: "We may use information about you that we collect from other Facebook users to supplement your profile (such as when you are tagged in a photo or mentioned in a status update). In such cases we generally give you the ability to remove the content (such as allowing you to remove a photo tag of you) or limit its visibility on your profile." The terminology regarding the use of collecting information from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, and instant messaging services, has been removed.
The possibility of data mining by private persons unaffiliated with Facebook has been a concern, as evidenced by the fact that two Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students were able to download, using an automated script, over 70,000 Facebook profiles from four schools (MIT, NYU, the University of Oklahoma, and Harvard University) as part of a research project on Facebook privacy published on December 14, 2005. Since then, Facebook has bolstered security protection for users, responding: "We've built numerous defenses to combat phishing and malware, including complex automated systems that work behind the scenes to detect and flag Facebook accounts that are likely to be compromised (based on anomalous activity like lots of messages sent in a short period of time, or messages with links that are known to be bad)."
order to provide you with useful social experiences off of Facebook, we
occasionally need to provide General Information about you to
preapproved third-party websites and applications that use Platform at
the time you visit them (if you are still logged in to Facebook).
Similarly, when one of your friends visits a preapproved website or
application, it will receive General Information about you so you and
your friend can be connected on that website as well (if you also have
an account with that website). In these cases we require these websites
and applications to go through an approval process, and to enter into
separate agreements designed to protect your privacy…You can disable
instant personalization on all preapproved websites and applications
using your Applications and Websites privacy setting. You can also block
a particular preapproved website or application by clicking "No Thanks"
in the blue bar when you visit that application or website. In
addition, if you log out of Facebook before visiting a preapproved
application or website, it will not be able to access your information.
In September 2007, Facebook drew a fresh round of criticism after it began allowing non-members to search for users, with the intent of opening limited "public profiles" up to search engines such as Google in the following months. Facebook's privacy settings, however, allow users to block their profiles from search engines.
Concerns were also raised on the BBC's Watchdog program in October 2007 when Facebook was shown to be an easy way in which to collect an individual's personal information in order to facilitate identity theft. However, there is barely any personal information presented to non-friends - if users leave the privacy controls on their default settings, the only personal information visible to a non-friend is the user's name, gender, profile picture, networks, and user name.
A third party site, uSocial, was involved in a controversy surrounding the sale of fans and friends. uSocial received a cease-and-desist letter from Facebook and has stopped selling friends.
Inability to voluntarily terminate accounts
A notable ancillary effect of social-networking websites, particularly Facebook, is the ability for participants to mourn publicly for a deceased individual. On Facebook, students often leave messages of sadness, grief, or hope on the individual's page, transforming it into a sort of public book of condolences. This particular phenomenon has been documented at a number of schools.
Such memorial groups have also raised legal issues. Notably, on January 1, 2008, one such memorial group posted the identity of murdered Toronto teenager Stefanie Rengel, whose family had not yet given the Toronto Police Service their consent to release her name to the media, and the identities of her accused killers, in defiance of Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act which prohibits publishing the names of under-age criminals. While police and Facebook staff attempted to comply with the privacy regulations by deleting such posts, they noted that it was difficult to effectively police the individual users who repeatedly republished the deleted information.
Customization and securityFacebook is often compared to MySpace but one significant difference between the two sites is the level of customization. MySpace allows users to decorate their profiles using HTML and CSS while Facebook allows only plain text. However, a number of users have tweaked their profiles by using "hacks." On February 24, 2006, a pair of users exploited a cross-site scripting (XSS) hole on the profile page and created a fast-spreading worm, loading a custom CSS file on infected profiles that made them look like MySpace profiles.
On April 19, 2006, a user was able to embed an iframe into his profile and load a custom off-site page featuring a streaming video and a flash game from Drawball. He has since been banned from Facebook.
Quit Facebook DayQuit Facebook Day was an online event that took place on May 31, 2010 (coinciding with Memorial Day), in which Facebook users stated that they would quit the social network, due to privacy concerns. It was estimated that 2% of Facebook users coming from the United States would delete their accounts. However, only 33,000 users quit the site (a shame)*.
*I wonder how many went back...
Photo recognition and face taggingFacebook enabled an automatic facial recognition feature in June 2011, called "Tag Suggestions". The feature compares newly uploaded photographs to those of the uploader's Facebook friends, in order to suggest photo tags. Facebook has defended the feature, saying users can disable it. Facebook introduced the feature in an opt-out basis. European Union data-protection regulators said they would investigate the feature to see if it violated privacy rules.
Investigation by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner 2011 / 2012In August 2011 the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) started an investigation after receiving 22 complaints by europe-v-facebook.org which was founded by a group of Austrian students. The DPC stated in first reactions that the Irish DPC is legally responsible for privacy on Facebook for all users within the European Union and that he will "investigate the complaints using his full legal powers if necessary". The complaints were filed in Ireland because all users who are not residents of the United States or Canada have a contract with "Facebook Ireland Ltd", located in Dublin, Ireland. Under European law Facebook Ireland is the "data controller" for facebook.com, and therefore, facebook.com is governed by European data protection laws. Facebook Ireland Ltd. was established by Facebook Inc. to avoid US taxes (see Double Irish arrangement).
The group europe-v-facebook.org made access requests at Facebook Ireland and received up to 1.222 pages of data per person in 57 data categories that Facebook was holding about them, including data that was previously removed by the users. Despite the amount of information given, the group claimed that Facebook did not give them all of its data. Some of the information not included was "likes", data about the new face recognition function, data about third party websites that use "social plugins" visited by users and information about uploaded videos. Currently the group claims that Facebook holds at least 84 data categories about every user.,
In an Interview with the Irish Independent a spokesperson said, that the DPC will "go and audit Facebook, go into the premises and go through in great detail every aspect of security". He continued by saying: "It's a very significant, detailed and intense undertaking that will stretch over four or five days." In December 2011 the DPC has published a first report on Facebook. This report was not legally binding but suggested changes that Facebook should undertake until July 2012. The DPC is planning to do a review about Facebook's progress in July 2012.
Breach of privacy extends to non-members of Facebook
An article published by USA Today claimed that Facebook has created a web log of pages visited both by its members and by others. Facebook relies on tracking cookies to keep track of pages visited by more than 800 million individuals.
According to the article, the United States congress and the world wide web consortium are attempting to set new guidelines to deal with privacy concerns. It is not clear whether the information collected in this manner is provided only to advertisers and no others.
DivorceSocial networks, like Facebook, can have a detrimental effect on marriages with users becoming worried about their spouse's contacts and relations with other people online, leading to marital breakdown and divorce. In the UK, between 20 to 33 percent of divorce petitions cited Facebook as a cause according to a study carried out in December 2009 by UK based divorce service Divorce-Online and reported extensively in the media.
StressResearch performed by psychologists from Edinburgh Napier University indicated that Facebook adds stress to users' lives. Causes of stress included fear of missing important social information, fear of offending contacts, discomfort or guilt from rejecting user requests or deleting unwanted contacts or being unfriended or blocked by Facebook friends or other users, the displeasure of having friend requests rejected or ignored, the pressure to be entertaining, criticism or intimidation from other Facebook users, and having to use appropriate etiquette for different types of friends. Many people who started using Facebook for positive purposes or with positive expectations have found that the website has negatively impacted their actual lives.
Misleading campaignsIn May 2011 emails were sent to journalists and bloggers making critical allegations about Google's privacy policies; however it was later discovered that the anti-Google campaign, conducted by PR giant Burson-Marsteller, was paid for by Facebook in what CNN referred to as "a new level skullduggery" and which Daily Beast called a "clumsy smear." While taking responsibility for the campaign, Burson-Marsteller said it should not have agreed to keep its client's (Facebook's) identity a secret. "Whatever the rationale, this was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined," it said in a statement.
Inappropriate content controversies
Intellectual Property Infringement
Facebook claims its ownership over any content published on its pages, therefore effectively abusing the international law concerning the use of unalienated rights (intellectual property). That is, Facebook has an exclusive right over any product of anyone's intellectual activity, once it has been posted there. Moreover, in case of deleting a user's page, Facebook refuses to provide the blocked content back to its author, in a private order. 
There is mounting criticism about the business policies of Facebook. This is primarily due to ongoing application and interface changes, generally enabled by default, which raise substantial concerns over user privacy. There are also legal concerns about the ways that Facebook has obtained users confidential email addresses and sent unsolicited emails to their friends and business associates asking them to join. The question in many countries is whether these actions broke the privacy laws that exist, and even in the United States, the Constitution itself in the core foundation area of Liberty and freedom of association without fear of retribution. For many countries, the ongoing investigation is focused on the infringement of the privacy rights of individuals, and the fact that no company should farm humanity for commercial gain.
One can easily create an account and impersonate another person, such as a celebrity, often for malicious or mischievous reasons and to harass and/or deceive others. This criticism is not unique to Facebook, since any social-networking site with user accounts has the potential for users to create false accounts but due to its popularity and wide use Facebook is cited as the main cause of this on the internet. Identity theft is also a potential problem for any celebrity or public figure who uses Facebook and other social network accounts to get in touch with their fans as any identity thief(s) who creates multiple accounts for one celebrity makes it almost impossible to prove the authenticity of any real celebrity's actual account and can cause many issues both for the fans and the figure in question. Some online scammers have used the photos of porn stars or other models to engage in "love fraud" and extort money from unsuspecting online lovers or fans.
On July 24, 2008, the High Court in London ordered a British cameraman to pay £22,000 (then about US$43,700) for breach of privacy and libel. He had posted a fake Facebook page purporting to be that of a former schoolfriend and business colleague, Mathew Firsht, with whom he had fallen out in 2000. The fake page claimed that Firsht was homosexual and untrustworthy. The case is believed to be the first successful invasion of privacy and defamation verdict against someone over an entry on a social-networking site.
Anorexia and bulimia
Facebook has received criticism from users and from people outside the Facebook community about hosting pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia information. British eating disorder charity B-EAT called on all social-networking sites to curb "pro-ana" (anorexia) and "pro-mia" (bulimia) pages and groups, naming MySpace and Facebook specifically.
On August 3, 2007, British companies including First Direct, Vodafone, Virgin Media, The Automobile Association, Halifax and the Prudential removed their advertisements from Facebook. A Virgin Media spokeswoman said "We want to advertise on social networks but we have to protect our brand". The companies found that their services were being advertised on pages of the British National Party, a far-right political party in the UK. New Media Age magazine was first to alert the companies that their ads were coming up on BNP's Facebook page.
Facebook hate groups
Virtual groups differ from traditional hate groups, which are defined as any organized group that advocates hostility to a certain individual, or a specific group of individuals
A hate group, in a traditional sense, is any organized group that advocates hostility to a certain individual, or a specific group of individuals. Traditionally, the primary means by which hate groups recruited members or spread their message of intolerance were by word of mouth, or by pamphleteering. However, on the Web, a hate group does not have to be a part of a traditional faction, such as the KKK.
Facebook hate page/group creators choose their target, set up a site, and then recruit members (Perry and Olsson, 2009). Anyone can make a Facebook "group" at any time. The creator invites followers to post comments, add pictures and participate in discussion boards. A Facebook "page" is similar, except one must "like" the page to become a member. Because of the ease of creating and joining such groups, many so-called "hate" groups exist only in cyberspace (Meddaugh and Kay, 2009).
Pro-mafia groups' case
In Italy, the discovery of pro-mafia groups caused an alert in the country and brought the government, after a short debate, to rapidly issue a law which will force ISPs to deny access to entire sites in case of refused removal of illegal contents; the removal can be requested by a prosecutor in any case in which there is a suspicion that criminal speech (a defense of or incitement to crime) is published on a website. The amendment was passed by the Italian Senate and now needs to be passed unchanged by the Chamber of Deputies to become immediately effective.
Facebook and other websites, Google included, criticized the amendment emphasizing the eventual effects on the freedom of speech of those users who do not violate any law.
On March 31, 2010, the Today Show ran a segment detailing the deaths of three separate adolescent girls and trolls' subsequent reactions to their deaths. Shortly after the suicide of high school student Alexis Pilkington, anonymous posters began trolling for reactions across various message boards, referring to Pilkington as a "suicidal CUSS", and posting graphic images on her Facebook memorial page. The segment also included an exposé of a 2006 accident, in which an eighteen-year-old student out for a drive fatally crashed her father's car into a highway pylon; trolls e-mailed her grieving family the leaked pictures of her mutilated corpse.
There have been cases where Facebook "trolls" were jailed for their communications on Facebook, particularly memorial pages. In Fall 2010, Colm Coss of Ardick, Britain, was sentenced to 26 weeks in jail under s127 of the Communications Act 2003 of Great Britain, for "malicious communications" for leaving messages deemed obscene and hurtful on Facebook memorial pages.
In April 2011, Bradley Paul Hampson was sentenced to three years in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of using a carriage service, the Internet, to cause offense, for posts on Facebook memorial pages, and one count each of distributing and possessing child pornography when he posted images on the memorial pages of the deceased with phalluses superimposed alongside phrases such as "Woot I'm dead".
A series of pro-rape and 'rape joke' content on Facebook drew attention from the media and women's groups. Rape Is No Joke (RINJ), a group opposing the pages, argued that removing "pro-rape" pages from Facebook and other social media was not a violation of free speech in the context of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the concepts recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. RINJ repeatedly challenged Facebook to remove the rape pages. RINJ then turned to advertisers on Facebook telling them not to let their advertising be posted on Facebook's 'rape pages'.
Disabling of user accounts
There have been complaints of user accounts easily being mistakenly disabled for violating Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. The disabling is often automated and can be easily triggered by a user filing a report on an account, regardless of whether or not the report is legitimate. Once Facebook disables an account, whether it does so for unconfirmed reasons or a suspicion that something may be awry, it is impossible to reinstate the account, partly due to lack of in-person support and partly because any attempt to do so sends the account holder into a closed loop.
Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities is often misleading. For example, it states that joining a school network is not a requirement, even though users are often disabled for not joining a school network. Facebook has disabled user accounts for having names deemed to be fake despite being real. Once an account is disabled, it can no longer be logged into and all public traces of it disappear.
There have also been instances of user accounts being memorialized, even though the person listed on the profile was not deceased.
Enabling of Harassment
Lack of customer supportFacebook lacks live support, making it difficult to resolve issues that require the services of an administrator or are not covered in the FAQs, such as the enabling of a disabled account. The automated emailing system used when filling out a support form often refers users back to the help center or to pages that are outdated and cannot be accessed, leaving users at a dead end with no further support available.
Downtime and outages
Facebook has had a number of outages and downtime large enough to draw some media attention. A 2007 outage resulted in a security hole that enabled some users to read other users' personal mail. In 2008, the site was inaccessible for about a day, from many locations in many countries. In spite of these occurrences, a report issued by Pingdom found that Facebook had less downtime in 2008 than most social-networking websites. On September 16, 2009, Facebook started having major problems with loading when people signed in. On September 18, 2009, Facebook went down for the second time in 2009, the first time being when a group of hackers were deliberately trying to drown out a political speaker who had social networking problems from continuously speaking against the Iranian election results. On August 10, 2011 Facebook was in-accessible. On March 5, 2012 again, the website was in-accessible for about half an hour.
In October 2009, an unspecified number of Facebook users were unable to access their accounts for over three weeks. On September 23, 2010, nobody within the UK, US, and Latin America could log in to Facebook. Facebook quoted a DNS failure.
September 2008In September 2008, Facebook permanently moved its users to what they termed the "New Facebook" or Facebook 3.0. This version contained several different features and a complete layout redesign. Between July and September, users had been given the option to use the new Facebook in place of the original design, or to return to the old design.
Facebook's decision to migrate their users was met with some controversy in their community. Several groups started opposing the decision, some with over a million users.
October 2009In October 2009, Facebook redesigned the news feed so that the user could view all types of things that their friends were involved with. In a statement, they said,
Stores your applications generate can show up in both views. The best way for your stories to appear in the News Feed filter is to create stories that are highly engaging, as high quality, interesting stories are most likely to garner likes and comments by the user's friends.This redesign was explained as:
News Feed will focus on popular content, determined by an algorithm based on interest in that story, including the number of times an item is liked or commented on. Live Feed will display all recent stories from a large number of a user's friends.The redesign was met immediately with criticism with users, many who did not like the amount of information that was coming at them. This was also compounded by the fact that people couldn't select what they saw. Immediately, groups formed, one getting over 1,600,000 within the first two weeks of the update.
The change was described by Gawker as Facebook's Great Betrayal, forcing user profile photos and friends lists to be visible in users' public listing, even for users who had explicitly chosen to hide this information previously, and making photos and personal information public unless users were proactive about limiting access. For example, a user whose "Family and Relationships" information was set to be viewable by "Friends Only" would default to being viewable by "Everyone" (publicly viewable). That is, information such as the gender of partner you are interested in, relationship status, and family relations became viewable to those even without a Facebook account.
Facebook was heavily criticized for both reducing its users' privacy and pushing users to remove privacy protections. Groups criticizing the changes include the Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, had hundreds of personal photos and his events calendar exposed in the transition. Facebook has since re-included an option to hide friends lists from being viewable; however, this preference is no longer listed with other privacy settings, and the former ability to hide the friends list from selected people among one's own friends is no longer possible. Journalist Dan Gillmor deleted his Facebook account over the changes, stating he "can't entirely trust Facebook" and Heidi Moore at Slate's Big Money temporarily deactivated her account as a "conscientious objection". Other journalists have been similarly disappointed and outraged by the changes. Defending the changes, founder Mark Zuckerberg said "we decided that these would be the social norms now and we just went for it". The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada launched another investigation into Facebook's privacy policies after complaints following the change.
Facebook has been criticized heavily for 'tracking' users, even when logged out of the site. Australian technologist Nik Cubrilovic discovered that when a user logs out of Facebook, the cookies from that login are still kept in the browser, allowing Facebook to track users on websites that include "social widgets" distributed by the social network. Facebook has denied the claims, saying they have 'no interest' in tracking users or their activity. They also promised after the discovery of the cookies that they would remove them, saying they will no longer have them on the site. A group of users in the United States have sued Facebook for breaching privacy laws. 
TimelineIn September 2011, Facebook announced a new feature called Timeline, which Zuckerberg claimed would make navigating through profiles easier. It was later decided that Timeline would become mandatory for all profiles; however, a large percentage of Facebook users have rejected this change.
A similar change to the news feed in September 2011 also resulted in controversy.
As of August 2012, Facebook started migrating profiles to the Timeline format.
Facebook Censorship controversies
Facebook's search function has been accused of preventing users from searching for certain terms. Michael Arrington of TechCrunch has written about Facebook's possible censorship of "Ron Paul" as a search term. MoveOn.org's Facebook group for organizing protests against privacy violations could for a time not be found by searching. The very word privacy was also restricted. Facebook claimed that the problem was a bug.
Facebook and Breastfeeding photos
Facebook has been repeatedly criticized for removing photos uploaded by mothers breastfeeding their babies and also canceling their Facebook accounts. Although photos that show an exposed breast violate Facebook's decency code, even when the baby covered the nipple, Facebook took several days to respond to criticism and deactivate a paid advertisement for a dating service that used a photo of a topless model.
The breastfeeding photo controversy continued following public protests and the growth in the online membership in the Facebook group titled "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene! (Official petition to Facebook)." In December 2011, Facebook removed photos of mothers breastfeeding and after public criticism, restored the photos. The company said it removed the photos they believed violated the pornographic rules in the company's terms and conditions. During February 2012, the company renewed its policy of removing photos of mothers breastfeeding. Founders of a Facebook group "Respect the Breast" reported that "women say they are tired of people lashing out at what is natural and what they believe is healthy for their children."
Facebook's Censorship of editorial content
On February 4, 2010, a number of Facebook groups against the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) were removed without any reason given. The DAB is one of the largest pro-Beijing political parties in Hong Kong. The affected groups have since been restored.
Accusation of politically biased granting of group upgrades
In May 2011, Facebook announced that in the coming months it will be "archiving" all groups in the old format, part of the consequence of which is losing all the existing members of a group, which would effectively destroy many groups, forcing them to re-acquire members from scratch. A few groups have been given an option to "upgrade" to the new groups format, which keeps the members, but the criteria for determining whether a group is offered this "upgrade" are unknown. Some groups have had success in getting this upgrade by having activity in their group, while others have not. One article has claimed an empirical observation that disproportionately more "liberal" groups have been able to upgrade than "conservative" groups, leading to accusations of potential political bias, or of politically motivated censorship of conservative groups.
Student privacy concerns
Students who post illegal or otherwise inappropriate material have faced disciplinary action from their universities, including expulsion. Others posting libelous content relating to faculty have also faced disciplinary action.
Facebook's effect on higher education
On January 23, 2006, The Chronicle of Higher Education continued an ongoing national debate on social networks with an opinion piece written by Michael Bugeja, director of the Journalism School at Iowa State University, entitled "Facing the Facebook". Bugeja, author of the Oxford University Press text Interpersonal Divide (2005), quoted representatives of the American Association of University Professors and colleagues in higher education to document the distraction of students using Facebook and other social networks during class and at other venues in the wireless campus. Bugeja followed up on January 26, 2007 in The Chronicle with an article titled "Distractions in the Wireless Classroom", quoting several educators across the country who were banning laptops in the classroom. Similarly, organizations such as the National Association for Campus Activities, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and others have hosted seminars and presentations to discuss ramifications of students' use of Facebook and other social-networking sites.
The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative has also released a brief pamphlet entitled "7 Things You Should Know About Facebook" aimed at higher education professionals that "describes what [Facebook] is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning".
Some research on Facebook in higher education suggests that there may be some small educational benefits associated with student Facebook use, including improving engagement which is related to student retention. More recent research has found that time spent on Facebook is related to involvement in campus activities. This same study found that certain Facebook activities like commenting and creating or RSVPing to events were positively related to student engagement while playing games and checking up on friends was negatively related. Furthermore, using technologies such as Facebook to connect with others can help college students be less depressed and cope with feelings of loneliness and homesickness.
However, unauthorized Facebook use in the classroom (in both primary, secondary, and in higher education) still remains a serious issue that educators and administrators battle to keep under control.
Facebook's effect on college student grades
As of February 2012, only four published peer-reviewed studies have examined the relationship between Facebook use and grades. There is considerable variance in the findings. Pasek et al. (2009) found there was no relationship between Facebook use and grades. Kolek and Saunders (2008) found that there were no differences in overall grade point average (GPA) between users and non-users of Facebook. Kirschner and Karpinski (2010) found that Facebook users reported a lower mean GPA than non-users. Junco's (2012) study clarifies the discrepancies in these findings. While Junco (2012) found a negative relationship between time spent on Facebook and student GPA in his large sample of college students, the real-world impact of the relationship was negligible. Furthermore, Junco (2012) found that sharing links and checking up on friends were positively related to GPA while posting status updates was negatively related. In addition to noting the differences in how Facebook use was measured among the four studies, Junco (2012) concludes that the ways in which students use Facebook are more important in predicting academic outcomes.
Third-party responses to Facebook
Government censorship of Facebook profiles.
Several countries have banned access to it including Syria, China, Iran, and Vietnam.
In 2010, Facebook reportedly allowed an objectionable page, deemed by the Islamic Lawyers Forum (ILF), to be anti-Muslim. The ILF filed a petition with Pakistan's Lahore High Court. On May 18, 2010, Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry ordered Pakistan's Telecommunication Authority to block access to Facebook until May 31. The offensive page had provoked street demonstrations in Muslim countries due to visual depictions of Prophet Mohammed, which are regarded as blasphemous by Muslims. A spokesman said Pakistan Telecommunication Authority would move to implement the ban once the order has been issued by the Ministry of Information and Technology. "We will implement the order as soon as we get the instructions", Khurram Mehran told AFP. "We have already blocked the URL link and issued instruction to Internet service providers yesterday", he added. Rai Bashir told AFP that "We moved the petition in the wake of widespread resentment in the Muslim community against the Facebook contents". The petition called on the government of Pakistan to lodge a strong protest with the owners of Facebook, he added. Bashir said a PTA official told the judge his organization had blocked the page, but the court ordered a total ban on the site. People demonstrated outside court in the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan, carrying banners condemning Facebook. Protests in Pakistan on a larger scale took place after the ban and widespread news of that objectionable page. The ban was lifted on May 31 after Facebook reportedly assured the Lahore High Court that it would remedy the issues in dispute.
In 2011, a court in Pakistan was petitioned to place a permanent ban on Facebook for hosting a page called "2nd Annual Draw Muhammad Day May 20th 2011."
Organizations blocking access
Ontario government employees, Federal public servants, MPPs, and cabinet ministers were blocked from access to Facebook on government computers in May 2007. When the employees tried to access Facebook, a warning message "The Internet website that you have requested has been deemed unacceptable for use for government business purposes". This warning also appears when employees try to access YouTube, MySpace, gambling or pornographic websites. However, innovative employees have found ways around such protocols, and many claim to use the site for political or work-related purposes.
A number of local governments including those in the UK and Finland imposed restrictions on the use of Facebook in the workplace due to the technical strain incurred. Other government-related agencies, such as the US Marine Corps have imposed similar restrictions. A number of hospitals in Finland have also restricted Facebook use citing privacy concerns.
Employees of Broward County, Florida have been blocked from accessing Facebook and most social-networking and blog sites since 2009.
Schools blocking access
The University of New Mexico (UNM) in October 2005 blocked access to Facebook from UNM campus computers and networks, citing unsolicited e-mails and a similar site called UNM Facebook. After a UNM user signed into Facebook from off campus, a message from Facebook said, "We are working with the UNM administration to lift the block and have explained that it was instituted based on erroneous information, but they have not yet committed to restore your access." UNM, in a message to students who tried to access the site from the UNM network, wrote, "This site is temporarily unavailable while UNM and the site owners work out procedural issues. The site is in violation of UNM's Acceptable Computer Use Policy for abusing computing resources (e.g., spamming, trademark infringement, etc.). The site forces use of UNM credentials (e.g., NetID or email address) for non-UNM business." However, after Facebook created an encrypted login and displayed a precautionary message not to use university passwords for access, UNM unblocked access the following spring semester.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on June 22, 2006, that Kent State University's athletic director had planned to ban the use of Facebook by athletes and gave them until August 1 to delete their accounts. On July 5, 2006, the Daily Kent Stater reported that the director reversed the decision after reviewing the privacy settings of Facebook.
Several web sites concerned with social networking, such as Plugtodo.com and Salesforce.com have criticized the lack of information that users get when they share data. Advanced users cannot limit the amount of information anyone can access in their profiles, but Facebook promotes the sharing of personal information for marketing purposes, leading to the promotion of the service using personal data from users who are not fully aware of this. Facebook exposes personal data, without supporting open standards for data interchange. According to several communities and authors closed social networking, on the other hand, promotes data retrieval from other people while not exposing one's personal information.
Openbook was established in early 2010 both as a parody of Facebook and a critique of its changing privacy management protocols.
Class action lawsuit
On November 17, 2009, Rebecca Swift, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, filed a class action lawsuit against Zynga Game Network Inc. and Facebook, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California for violation of the Unfair competition law and the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, and for unjust enrichment.
ConnectU.com lawsuitDivya Narendra, Cameron Winklevoss, and Tyler Winklevoss, founders of the social network ConnectU, filed a lawsuit against Facebook in September 2004. The lawsuit alleged that Zuckerberg had broken an oral contract to build the social-networking site, copied the idea, and used source code that they provided to Zuckerberg to create competing site Facebook. Facebook countersued in regards to Social Butterfly, a project put out by The Winklevoss Chang Group, an alleged partnership between ConnectU and i2hub. It named among the defendants ConnectU, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, Divya Narendra, and Wayne Chang, founder of i2hub. The parties reached a settlement agreement in February 2008, for $20 million in cash and 1,253,326 Facebook shares. On August 26, 2010, The New York Times reported that Facebook shares were trading at $76 per share in the secondary market, putting the total settlement value now at close to $120 million.
ConnectU filed another lawsuit against Facebook on March 11, 2008, attempting to rescind the settlement, claiming that Facebook, in settlement negotiations, had overstated the value of stock it was granting the ConnectU founders as part of the settlement. ConnectU argued that Facebook represented itself as being worth $15 billion at the time, due to the post-money valuation arising from Microsoft's purchase in 2007 of a 1.6% stake in Facebook for US $246 million. Facebook announced that valuation in a press release. However, Facebook subsequently performed an internal valuation that estimated a company value of $3.75 billion. ConnectU then fired the law firm Quinn Emanuel that had represented it in settlement discussions. Quinn Emanuel filed a $13 million lien against the settlement proceeds and ConnectU sued for malpractice. On August 25, 2010, an arbitration panel ruled that Quinn Emanuel had "earned its full contingency fee". It also found that Quinn Emanuel committed no malpractice. ConnectU's lawsuit against Facebook to quadruple its settlement remains ongoing.
In January 2010, it was reported that i2hub founder Wayne Chang and The i2hub Organization launched a lawsuit against ConnectU and its founders, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, seeking 50% of the settlement. The complaint states "Through this litigation, Chang asserts his ownership interest in The Winklevoss Chang Group and ConnectU, including the settlement proceeds." Lee Gesmer (of Gesmer Updegrove, LLP) posted the detailed 33-page complaint online. On April 12, 2011, a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that the Winklevoss brothers, whose fight over Facebook's origins was a major narrative arc of the film The Social Network, cannot back out of a settlement they signed with the company in 2008.
Aaron Greenspan and houseSYSTEM
As the President of the Harvard College Student Entrepreneurship Council (a now-defunct student group) and the CEO of Think Computer Corporation, Aaron Greenspan created a web portal as a Harvard undergraduate called houseSYSTEM that launched on August 1, 2003. Designed to centralize student life in a more user-friendly manner than Harvard's official student portal, my.harvard, houseSYSTEM had a variety of features, including an event calendar with digital RSVP, a photo album, user-uploadable "posters", a teaching feedback system called CriticalMass, an on-line trading post called Student Exchange, and, as of September 19, 2003, a "Universal Face Book", which was also referred to at times as "The Facebook." Greenspan began communicating with fellow classmate Mark Zuckerberg via e-mail shortly after launching the houseSYSTEM Facebook in September after reading a profile of Zuckerberg in The Harvard Crimson news magazine. They met in person in early January 2004, at which point Zuckerberg, as well as future Facebook, Inc. co-founders Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes were already houseSYSTEM members. (Cameron Winklevoss and Victor Gao of the ConnectU team were also houseSYSTEM members.) Though Greenspan and Zuckerberg decided to work on their respective projects independently, they frequently discussed technological aspects of houseSYSTEM related to the Facebook, as well as Zuckerberg's unspecified latest project, about which he was secretive, using AOL Instant Messenger. Throughout the spring semester of 2004, Greenspan and Zuckerberg were both enrolled in CS91r (also called Applied Math 91r), a ten-person computer science seminar that focused on using the PHP programming language with voice recognition technology.
On January 11, 2004, a few days after meeting Greenspan and concurrent with using the Universal Face Book on houseSYSTEM, Zuckerberg registered the domain name "thefacebook.com" independently. On February 4, 2004, when thefacebook.com launched, Greenspan recognized aspects of his own work in the site, and later came to believe that Zuckerberg was copying his work one feature at a time—a claim that Zuckerberg denied. Many of the features Greenspan created for houseSYSTEM, such as the digital event posters, electronic RSVPs, organizational pages, photo album, and marketplace, did eventually appear on thefacebook.com under similar names. Zuckerberg was aware of these features, eventually telling Greenspan at one point, "your facenet thing is hot". Social-networking functionality was added to houseSYSTEM in March 2004, and the name "FaceNet" replaced the "Universal Face Book". Regarding Greenspan's allegations, Zuckerberg was described in The New York Times as "saying through a spokeswoman that he was not sure how to respond."
In 2008, when Greenspan published a book entitled Authoritas: One Student's Harvard Admissions and the Founding of the Facebook Era describing his side of the story of Facebook's birth as well as events leading up to it (including aggressive actions on behalf of the Harvard University administration), he was prohibited from advertising the book using Google AdWords because of the inclusion of the word "Facebook" in the book's subtitle, and the existence of Facebook, Inc.'s registered trademark on the term "Facebook". The trademark had come into existence two years before in 2006, partially as a defensive measure during a battle over the "facebook.com" domain name in the ConnectU lawsuit.
Greenspan's company filed a Petition to Cancel the "Facebook" trademark, which included claims of prior use and fraud by Facebook, Inc. against the USPTO. Greenspan represented himself for the majority of the proceedings, and the USPTO TTAB found his claims to be adequate. Facebook, Inc. agreed to a formal settlement with Greenspan in late May 2009 and issued a press release, but the terms were not disclosed.
Greenspan is incorrectly referred to repeatedly as "Aaron Grossman" in Ben Mezrich's book, The Accidental Billionaires. Greenspan declined to cooperate with Mezrich on the book due to Mezrich's reputation for character distortion and consequently was not included in the resulting screenplay for The Social Network, even though Mezrich cited Authoritas as a source.
Greenspan has written a number of articles critical of Facebook on The Huffington Post.
On June 30, 2010, Paul Ceglia, the owner of a wood pellet fuel company in Allegany County, New York, filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, claiming 84% ownership of Facebook as well as additional monetary damages. According to Ceglia, he and Zuckerberg signed a contract on April 28, 2003, that for an initial fee of $1,000, entitles Ceglia to 50% of the website's revenue, as well as additional 1% interest per each day after January 1, 2004, until website completion. Zuckerberg was developing other projects at the time, among which was Facemash, the predecessor of Facebook, but did not register the domain name thefacebook.com until January 1, 2004. Facebook management has dismissed the lawsuit as "completely frivolous". Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt issued a statement indicating that the counsel for Ceglia had unsuccessfully attempted to seek an out-of-court settlement. In an interview to ABC World News, Zuckerberg stated he is confident of never signing such an agreement. At the time, Zuckerberg worked for Ceglia as a code developer on a project named "StreetFax". Judge Thomas Brown of Allegany Court issued a restraining order on all financial transfers concerning ownership of Facebook until further notice; in response, Facebook management successfully filed for the case to be moved to federal court. According to Facebook, the order does not affect their business but lacks legal basis.
Young v. Facebook, Inc.
In Young v. Facebook, Inc., plaintiff Karen Beth Young alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and related state laws on disability as well as breach of contract and negligence. A District Court judge dismissed the complaint, ruling that Facebook is a website, not a physical place, so the Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply.
This new voting system was initially applauded as Facebook's step to a more democratized social network system. However, the new terms were harshly criticized in a report by computer scientists from the University of Cambridge, who stated that the democratic process surrounding the new terms is disingenuous and significant problems remain in the new terms. The report was endorsed by the Open Rights Group.
In December 2009, EPIC and a number of other US privacy organizations filed another complaint with the Federal Trade Commission regarding Facebook's Terms of Service. In January 2011 EPIC filed a subsequent complaint claiming that Facebook's new policy of sharing users' home address and mobile phone information with third-party developers were "misleading and fail[ed] to provide users clear and privacy protections", particularly for children under age 18. Facebook temporarily suspended implementation of its policy in February 2011, but the following month announced it was "actively considering" reinstating the 3rd party policy.
Interoperability and data portability
Facebook has been criticized for failing to offer users a feature to export their friends' information, such as contact information, for use with other services or software. The inability of users to export their social graph in an open standard format contributes to vendor lock-in and contravenes the principles of data portability. Automated collection of user information without Facebook's consent violates its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and third-party attempts to do so (e.g., Web scraping) have resulted in suspension of accounts, cease and desist letters, and litigation with one of the third parties, Power.com.
Facebook Connect has been criticized for its lack of interoperability with OpenID.
Better Business Bureau Facebook review
As of December 2010, the Better Business Bureau gave Facebook an "A" rating"
As of December 2010, the 36-month running count of complaints about Facebook logged with the Better Business Bureau is 1136, including 101 ("Making a full refund, as the consumer requested"), 868 ("Agreeing to perform according to their contract"), 1 ("Refuse [sic] to adjust, relying on terms of agreement"), 20 ("Unassigned"), 0 ("Unanswered") and 136 ("Refusing to make an adjustment"). Facebook reportedly claimed to the BBB that some customers had received warnings for violations when none were actually sent.
Facebook's software has proven vulnerable to likejacking. On July 28, 2010 the BBC reported that security consultant Ron Bowes used a piece of code to scan Facebook profiles to collect data of 100 million profiles. The data collected was not hidden by the user's privacy settings. Bowes then published the list online. This list, which has been shared as a downloadable file, contains the URL of every searchable Facebook user's profile, their name and unique ID. Bowes said he published the data to highlight privacy issues, but Facebook claimed it was already public information.
EnvironmentIn 2010, Prineville, Oregon was chosen as the site for a new Facebook data center. However the center has been met with criticism from environmental groups such as Greenpeace because the power utility company contracted for the center, PacifiCorp, generates 60% of its electricity from coal. In September 2010, Facebook received a letter from Greenpeace containing half a million signatures asking the company to cut its ties to coal based electricity.
In July 2012, startup Limited Run claimed that 80% of its Facebook clicks came from bots. Limited Run co-founder Tom Mango told TechCrunch that they "spent roughly a month testing this" with six web analytics services including Google Analytics and in-house software.
Fake accounts on Facebook
In August 2012, Facebook revealed that more than 83 million Facebook accounts (8.7% of total users) are fake accounts. These fake profiles consist of duplicate profiles, accounts for spamming purposes and personal profiles for business, organization or non-human entities such as pets. As a result of this revelation, the share price of Facebook dropped below $18.Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Facebook
Facebook Charging for ServicesIt was orginally believed by many that Facebook would be "free forever." However, in 2012, Facebook began rolling out a new method for people to "promote" their status updates. Currently, the cost of the feature is $7.00 in the United States. Many users view this move negatively, seeing it as a sign of things to come.