According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, almost 13 million U.S. Facebook users either don't use any privacy controls or aren't aware that they're available.
"The magazine also reported that a significant number of members have shared potentially sensitive information that could be used against them," writes The Chicago Tribune's Wailin Wong. "For example, 4.7 million have clicked 'Like' on pages about health conditions or treatments, which Consumer Reports said 'an insurer might use against you.' And 20.4 million included their birth date and year in their profile."
"Facebook really is changing the way the world socially communicates and has become a successful service in part by leveraging copious amounts of personal data that can be spread far wider than its users might realize," Consumer Reports technology editor Jeff Fox said in a statement. "Our investigation revealed some fascinating, and some disquieting trends -- but ones always worth knowing for consumers who wish to keep their personal data under better control."
"Privacy is a persistent issue for Facebook, which has built a formidable business by trading on people’s online social lives, selling ads that target its more than 900 million users by the vast information they volunteer on the website," writes The Los Angeles Times' Jessica Guynn. "It has come under heavy scrutiny for its handling of consumer data. In November it reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and agreed to undergo independent privacy audits every other year for 20 years."
"Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of the organization that publishes Consumer Reports magazine, has rolled out a petition urging Facebook to improve privacy controls and address user concerns about what information from Facebook can be shared with third parties," writes The New York Times' Somini Sengupta.
"To compile its report, Consumer Reports surveyed more than 2,000 households, of which 1,340 were active on Facebook," notes CNET News' Lance Whitney. "The magazine also reached out to Facebook for information as well as to security experts, privacy attorneys, and victims of privacy abuse."