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Facebook Places Privacy First

Instead of stepping haplessly into yet another privacy quagmire, Facebook came with guides and a map to avoid problems.

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Facebook faced the predictable backlash from advocacy groups following the launch of Facebook Places, the social networking site's new location sharing service,

But rather than letting privacy concerns fester as the company has in the past, Facebook adopted a more proactive and pragmatic approach: actually giving some thought to privacy.

Still, despite Facebook's assurance that users have control over location sharing in Places, the ACLU of Northern California chided the company for not doing enough to protect user privacy.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, lacking a glaring misstep to criticize, offered a primer on Places privacy and urged Facebook to support location spoofing and to protect location data as strongly as it can in the face of law enforcement requests.

Facebook responded to criticisms immediately, rebutting the ACLU of Northern California's complaints point-by-point in an e-mail to the media and insisting that Facebook Places sets a new standard for user control and privacy protection of location data.

"We're disappointed that ACLU’s Northern California office ignores this and seems to generally misunderstand how the service works," said Facebook spokesperson Barry Schnitt in an e-mailed statement. "Specifically, no location information is associated with a person unless he or she explicitly chooses to become part of location sharing. No one can be checked in to a location without their explicit permission."

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