Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Facebook Gets Graded

Facebook Earns a C- for
Respecting User

By Leslie Meredith, Senior Writer, TechNewsDaily, 31 August 2012

Clickwrapped, a new review company, has released its first report card that grades top websites on how well they protect users' privacy and their other user policies.

Despite pervasive criticism in the media, Facebook ranked near the top of the list, ahead of Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

The site's founder, attorney and technology entrepreneur Andrew Nicol, based ratings on answers to questions such as "Does the site get more rights to your content than it needs?" and "What can the site do with content you post?"

Websites are graded on four categories: Data Use, Data Disclosure, Amendment & Termination and Miscellaneous.  Each can be awarded up to 100 points — 25 points per category. Wikipedia had the highest score with 86 points, and was the only site to score a perfect 25, which it earned for appropriate use of data, meaning that Wikipedia only uses your data to support listings on the site. Craigslist ended up at the bottom of the list with an overall score of 45. Facebook ranked fourth.

The site's founder Andrew Nicol was himself surprised that Facebook ranked so high.

"Facebook, because it has more data about more of us, it just simply attracts more press just because it’s so big," Nicol said in a report from news site AllFacebook. "I don’t think a lot of people realize that it compares pretty well to a lot of other social networks in that there are actually a lot more restrictions on what it can do with your data."

While Facebook's score of 70 is a barely passing grade on a standard scale, it ranked high compared to other sites.

Facebook made high marks because it allows users to control their privacy, does not cancel an account unless the user is in clear violation of its terms and services agreement and promises to consult users prior to modifying the terms and services agreement.

"Its current terms of service (which it calls the "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities") is actually one of the most pro-user agreements in our survey," Nicols said.

However, the biggest social media network has areas it needs to work on, such as claiming ownership of user content — Facebook can sell your content to other companies, tracking its members’ visits to other websites and not commiting itself to tell you when it has released your data to law enforcement.

Nicol plans to add more websites to his lineup and categorize them by type, including social network, e-commerce and photo-sharing sites.

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