Privacy setting screens that Facebook, Google and Microsoft provide to users are misleading, according to research (PDF) from the Norwegian consumer organization Forbrukerradet. The settings they show are not actually helpful and come at the expense of the user’s privacy. The companies also provide privacy-invasive settings by default, they use misleading descriptions, and they hide the settings that are really privacy-friendly.
As the privacy screens are currently designed, they give users the false illusion that they are in control over their privacy while in reality they aren’t. “Facebook and Google have privacy intrusive defaults, where users who want the privacy friendly option have to go through a significantly longer process. They even obscure some of these settings so that the user cannot know that the more privacy intrusive option was preselected”, according to Forbrukerradet.
But even when users change their settings not much changes, according to the researchers, “we conclude that users seem to not have been given a substantial choice, even after going through the extra effort of changing their settings with the intention of using their data protection rights.”