Government // Open Government
12:30 PM

Facebook Modifies Privacy Settings For State Governments

Colorado attorney general led coalition that faulted the social media site's terms of service for conflicting with state constitutions.

Obama's Tech Tools
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Obama's Tech Tools
Facebook on Wednesday confirmed it will amend its privacy settings to address complaints from attorneys general in several states around the country regarding conflicts between the site's terms of service and their state's constitutions.

Top legal officials in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington participated in negotiations with the social media giant, according to the Associated Press. Colorado's Office of the Attorney General began discussions with Facebook about a year ago when it found conflicts between Facebook's terms of service agreements and the state's constitution.

Changes include removing an indemnity clause that forced users to pay legal fees to Facebook for harm or loss, unless a state's constitution allows it, said John Suthers, Colorado attorney general. Other changes include the removal of a provision that requires that all disputes with Facebook be resolved in California courts; calling for the prominent display of a state agency's Web site on their Facebook page; and encouraging the amicable resolution of disputes, according to the AP.

"We look forward to continuing to work with Facebook and starting a new dialogue with the people of Colorado through the company's Web site. Social media is a great way to keep the public apprised of the important work we and other public entities do on behalf of the people of Colorado," Suthers said, in a statement.

After a year of studying the issue and the resolution with Facebook, Suther's agency now will establish a Facebook page, he said.

On April 13, 2010, Suthers' office instructed all state agencies and institutions of higher education to take down their Facebook pages "due to indemnity issues," according to Denver Westword. In a follow-up post, attorney general spokesman Mike Saccone said the concern revolved around Facebook's indemnity clause, which stated that the site was not responsible if one user initiated legal action against another user, Westword wrote.

"Indemnity clauses are very common," he said at the time. "We are seeking a resolution similar to what the federal government has with Facebook, in which the indemnity clause has been removed. It's not unprecedented, and the issue is not new by any means."

These latest changes are similar to those reached between Facebook and federal agencies in 2010, and they do not impact individual accounts, AP said. After federal agencies and Facebook resolved their concerns, 50 federal groups created hundreds of Facebook pages with millions of fans, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes told the AP.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Time to Reconsider Enterprise Email Strategy
Time to Reconsider Enterprise Email Strategy
Cost, time, and risk. It's the demand trifecta vying for the attention of both technology professionals and attorneys charged with balancing the expectations of their clients and business units with the hard reality of the current financial and regulatory climate. Sometimes, organizations assume high levels of risk as a result of their inability to meet the costs involved in data protection. In other instances, it's time that's of the essence, as with a data breach.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.