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Facebook Inc. (FB) Privacy Settings ‘Outing’ LGBT?

Facebook Inc.Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has been getting an awful lot of heat for its privacy settings, both in the U.S. and abroad. There has been mounting evidence that Facebook has had a problem toeing the line between protecting privacy of users and gaining revenue from advertisers that use user data to target their marketing to certain customers or potential consumers. This has been a bugaboo for the company, and it certainly can affect  reputation of the business model with investors like billionaire fund manager George Soros of Soros Fund Management.

But are Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) privacy settings making private bedroom preference public? Never mind name, address or phone number – are there Facebook Inc. (FB) users who have kept their sexual preferences private from their family and friends, but are finding their preferences exposed publicly on the social-networking site? It seems so, according to a recent Wall Street Journal piece that told the story of a pair of students at the University of Texas at Austin.

The two students had followed directions to keep their Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) profiles private, so they thought they were covered. However, when the president of the Queer Chorus added these two students to their “open” Facebook Inc. (FB) group, a notification was sent to all of those students’ friends … two of which were their dads, who didn’t know the two students were gay. So though the two students had private profiles, the fact they joined this “open” group was made very public, without their consent.

There had been some confusion about private vs. public information, and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) worked to clarify the language in its Help Center after the Journal made some inquiries, and now apparently users will have some level of control in “announcing” additions to their profiles. But that did not help these two students. “Facebook’s privacy controls are especially interesting in this light, as the two students did follow the company’s rules to keeping their profiles private, but their secrets were exposed anyway,” blogger Jessica Roy wrote. “Suddenly, that whole private messaging scandal seems like child’s play.”

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