Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Research Result

EMSOC partners advise Privacy Commission in Facebook investigation

Our EMSOC research in social media firms such as Facebook continues to have a positive impact. Indeed, the Privacy Commission used our project results and our connections to investigate Facebook’s updated privacy statement in January 2015. This has enabled the Privacy Commission to take Facebook to court and protect Belgian users’ (and non-users’) privacy.

Facebook and its approach to privacy

SMIT and CiTiP (KULeuven) already criticized the informed consent that Facebook demands as no longer being voluntarily given. The powerful platform forced consent by presenting its privacy statement updates as a take-it-or-leave-Facebook choice. SMIT’s research illustrated how Facebook has become too embedded in everyday lives of teens to even consider the ‘leave Facebook’ option. SMIT’s research on Facebook as a part of the larger online display advertising ecology also brought to light the platform’s interest to track users on non-Facebook websites.

Want to learn more about EMSOC and how the Privacy commission used our results?

The EMSOC research took place between 2010 and 2014. The key findings of the project can still be found at the EMSOC project website. The main results used by the Privacy Commission are available via the website of our CiTiP colleagues.