Senators Unfairly Target Facebook

by on April 28, 2010 · 9 comments

Facebook is in the spotlight—unfairly.

Yesterday, four Democratic U.S. senators — Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Michael Bennet (D-Col.), Mark Begich (Alaska) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) — published a letter to Facebook expressing their concern over Facebook’s privacy policies.  They asked Facebook to “fix” its privacy policy?

Privacy is a complex and often personal concept – how do these four senators know it’s broken?

Well, the letter follows the announcement of Facebook’s new Open Graph API that could revolutionize social networking. As one commentator wrote on ReadWriteWeb, “the bits of this platform bring together the visions of a social, personalized and semantic Web that have been discussed since pioneered Web 2.0 back in 2004.” The future of the web is not just knowing whether a user is interacting with a webpage, but knowing whether users are liking a specific kind of thing (referred to as the semantic web).

This sounds like very interesting stuff (understatement intended). And here’s the thing that many people (including many members of Congress) forget:  Facebook is a new model of business that has shaken up the way we communicate. And it’s operating in uncharted territory, miles ahead of the Washington, D.C. crowd that would like to put their own stamp on the company. This is a company that is driving innovation, the last thing we need are politicians attempting to fine-tune the engine.

Which company is the next target of a letter? What’s the precedent being set by these demands for Facebook and other innovative web-based companies? I imagine there are a lot of concerned entrepreneurs across the country wondering if they’re next.

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