Fight for the Future Director of Code Activism Jeff Lyon hand delivering the signatures to Facebook. More than 135,000 people demanded that Facebook opt them out of their new tracking system. (This photo is available for use by press.)
Evan Greer: 978-852-6457
Kevin Huang: 510-648-5048
More than 135,000 Internet users call on Facebook to end intrusive tracking, data collection, and psychological experiments that violate users’ basic rights
MENLO PARK, CA – Just one week after media reports that Facebook is facing a class action lawsuit that has already attracted more than 25,000 plaintiffs, activists from the digital rights group Fight for the Future showed up at Facebook’s corporate offices in California yesterday to hand deliver a box containing tens of thousands of petition signatures protesting the company’s abusive practices of tracking Internet users even when they are not on Facebook and conducting psychological experiments without consent.
More than 135,000 people demanded that Facebook remove them from the new tracking system, which was revealed in June. Fight for the Future called upon the company to heed their customer’s wishes and remove the signatories from the tracking system in question. The group also issued the following demands to Facebook in a cover letter included with the signatures:
We demand that Facebook:
End its intrusive tracking system that taps into the web activity of Internet users worldwide.
Inform the people affected by the psychological experiment that they were participants.
Disclose if any other similar experiments have been or are being conducted.
"With everything we’ve learned in the past year about the ways those in power have been abusing the Internet to invade our privacy, it’s no wonder that Facebook users are speaking out in droves demanding more transparency and accountability from a company that holds such a massive amount of personal information," said Evan Greer, of Fight for the Future. "The public has spoken, companies that ignore the growing cry for privacy should only expect user protests to intensify. We are heartened to hear that Facebook is facing a class action lawsuit for their practices – the signatures that we are delivering today should be seen as further evidence of this company’s lack of concern for its users basic rights."
The petitions that Fight for the Future delivered were launched in June in response to news reports exposing the extent of Facebook’s abusive practices. The signatures are a rejection of Facebook’s ad network expansion of their tracking system to collect web history and app data from all Internet users inside and outside Facebook. In addition, the privacy advocates also point to the June public announcement of psychological experiments conducted on 700,000 Facebook users without their informed consent. Facebook’s experiments were also revealed by Forbes to have breached its own user agreement, which was only changed to include the right to conduct research experiments four months after they were completed.
This is not the first time Facebook has run into trouble for its expansive corporate surveillance. In 2011, the FTC ruled against the company for deceiving its users about what data it was sharing with the public, third party applications, and advertisers.
"Everyone should have the ability to use the Internet to express themselves freely. It’s not only a human rights issue but it’s fundamental for democracy and freedom of press," added Greer, "overly invasive corporate practices like Facebook’s tracking system undermine the privacy of the web, and have a chilling effect on free speech. Facebook needs to do the right thing and start listening to their users – and in the meantime anyone concerned with privacy should move away from centralized services and toward services that are built to respect users’ human rights"
Campaign Manager Kevin Huang with Jeff Lyon outside Facebook’s corporate headquarters with 135,000 petition signatures. (This photo is available for use by press.)