German Region Banning Facebook's "Like" Button

The state of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany is banning Facebook’s “Like” button on German websites based in the region.
The controversial decision is lead by officials and Thilo Weichert, the head of the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection of the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, whom are giving website owners until the end of September to remove the “Like” button or face a 50,000 Euro fine.

Weichert has concerns about Facebook’s privacy settings and the company’s overwhelming control on people’s data. “Facebook can track every click on a site, how long I’m there, what I’m interested in,” told Weichert to German newspaper FAZ. He argues that the “Like” button on one’s website illegally sends the data to Facebook, which is then used to profile and understand web habits.

In its press release, the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection reveals its concern that Facebook uses the data to create “a broad individual and for members even a personalized profile. Such a profiling infringes German and European data protection law. There is no sufficient information of users and there is no choice; the wording in the conditions of use and privacy statements of Facebook does not nearly meet the legal requirements relevant for compliance of legal notice, privacy consent and general terms of use.

This isn’t the first time Germany put its foot down to protect its citizen’s privacy. The street view of one’s home on Google map can be pixelated, if the homeowner chooses to. Also, Facebook’s facial recognition feature has been criticized.

Weichert and the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection are showing resistance to Facebook’s growing intrusion into user’s privacy but it’s a battle that everyone else chose to avoid. Yes, Facebook is intrusive, but only if you let it be.  Anyone who clicks a “Like” button is taking the responsibility to share that information. The feature shouldn’t be banned since it is only an option, if someone wishes to share information about his/her interests.

A lot of people are concerned about Facebook’s privacy settings but users need to remember that they are the ones with complete power in deciding which information to share or not.

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