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Facebook's Data Privacy Controversies

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : BECG101 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
For delivery through Shipping & Handling Charges extra: Rs. 300 +Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Data Privacy
Case Length : 23 Pages
Period : 2004-2009
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Facebook.com
Industry : Internet and e-Commerce
Countries : US


The case examines the data privacy controversies related to Facebook.com (Facebook), the social networking website, operated by the US based Facebook Inc. Launched in 2004, as a social networking website for the students of Harvard University, Facebook went on to become the largest social networking website in terms of number of users. However, since the year 2006, different features and applications offered on Facebook led to data privacy controversies. In September 2006, the introduction of News Feed and Mini Feed on Facebook attracted criticism from the members. With increasing protest from members of Facebook against News Feed and Mini feed, Zuckerberg issued a letter of apology.

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Again in 2007, the launch of a 'public facing search function', and Beacon, a new advertising system, were in the midst of controversy. In February 2009, when Facebook Inc. revised the website's privacy policy, members of Facebook protested and made the company announce a proposed "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities" or "Terms and Service" for governing Facebook.

Facebook Inc. handled these controversies carefully and continued adding new features on the website. In March 2009, Facebook Inc. launched redesigned home page of Facebook. However, some industry experts still expressed concerns about users' privacy. The case details how Facebook emerged as the largest social networking website in terms of number of users. It also discusses different privacy related controversies associated with Facebook. It ends with the challenges that Facebook may face in the near future.


Examine the growth strategies of Facebook over the years.
Study different features of Facebook that attracted criticism.
Understand the concerns of privacy advocates while using social networking websites.
Analyze the challenges that Facebook may face in the near future.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
About Facebook 2
The Privacy Controversies 3
Redesigning the Website 6
The Road Ahead 7
Exhibits 10


Facebook.com, Data Privacy, User Education, EU Data-Protection Laws, Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, Privacy Laws, Social Networking Website, Privacy Controversies, Public Facing Search Function, How Beacon Works, Publisher Privacy Control, Mark Zuckerberg, Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, Content and Information Sharing, Account Security, Facebook Active Users

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