Under Pressure, Facebook Pledges to Improve Privacy

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If you've used Facebook for more than, oh, five minutes, you've seen a Facebook quiz. "What Greek dance are you?" "Which NFL coach are you?" "Which Diplomacy country should you play?" and so on. (I forget every quiz I see, and I'm up to more than 250 by now.)

But there's one quiz you might want to take a look at, which is the What Do Quizzes Really Know About You? on Facebook, from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Facebook applications typically have a boilerplate page, giving them access to all the information in your account. But this can add up to an awful lot -- especially since such applications also get access to information about your friends as well, the ACLU quiz warns.

The quiz then goes on to show you exactly what sort of information about you it has collected, as well as information about your friends, such as an aggregate of political affiliations, people's locations, and a sampling of groups to which they belong.

The purpose? To encourage users to change their privacy settings as well as to encourage them to contact Facebook to offer better privacy.

Coincidentally, on Thursday, Facebook announced a 12-month plan to enable users "to make more informed choices about their privacy."

"Specifically, Facebook will introduce a new permissions model that will require applications to specify the categories of information they wish to access and obtain express consent from the user before any data is shared," the company said. "In addition, the user will also have to specifically approve any access to their friends’ information, which would still be subject to the friend’s privacy and application settings."

However, Facebook didn't mention the ACLU quiz, instead saying it had been working with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. What Facebook also didn't mention is that the Canadian Privacy Commissioner ruled last month that Facebook had 30 days to come up with a plan to comply with Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or face court action, according to the New York Times.