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Facebook Issues Response to FTC, Defends Privacy Policy, User Engagement

Facebook has issued a lengthy response to the Federal Trade Commission's plan to protect online privacy, outlining the social network's long-term philosophy on the issue and its plans for the future.

In its response, Facebook admitted that the government should play a role in protecting user information on the Web, but argued that online companies should be allowed some freedom to regulate their own platforms, for the sake of innovation. While the social network agreed that it's important for companies to be more transparent about their privacy policies, it emphasized that the FTC should also consider consumers' ever-changing approach toward digital privacy.

In the comment, Facebook's chief privacy counsel Michael Richter pointed out that his company's success ultimately hinges upon the quality of its user-protection mechanisms. "For Facebook -- like most other online service providers -- getting this balance right is a matter of survival," Richter wrote. "If Facebook fails to protect the privacy of its users adequately, those users will lose trust in Facebook and will stop using the service."

Of course, the social network's approach to privacy has been met with public anger and outcry on numerous occasions. But Facebook argued that its past controversies only underscore the company's willingness to adjust policy in response to user feedback. Such flexibility, Facebook claimed, demonstrates that "private-sector efforts are particularly well suited for solving privacy-related problems on the Internet."

"Facebook's efforts to engage with its users on changes to its privacy policy or information sharing practices are virtually unparalleled in the industry," the company continued. "We are the only major online service provider that allows users to vote on the changes if comments reach a pre-set threshold... Time and again, Facebook has shown itself capable of correcting course in response to user feedback and thereby continuing to build trust."

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