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Canadian official launches new probe into Facebook

The government agency's original investigation was part of why Facebook cleaned up its controls in the first place, and now it's dissatisfied with the results.

New privacy controls launched by Facebook don't do enough--and might even make things worse--according to a new investigation launched by the Office of the Canadian Privacy Commissioner (OPC). The OPC had launched an earlier investigation into Facebook's user controls last summer, citing "serious privacy gaps" that were part of the reason why the massive social network started making modifications.

The concern this time around, a release Wednesday explains, is that when Facebook turned on its new privacy settings, the default setting exposed more information than it had before. "Some Facebook users are disappointed by certain changes being made to the site--changes that were supposed to strengthen their privacy and the protection of their personal information," Assistant Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said.

Facebook's new settings did clean up a previously confusing set of privacy controls. But they also encouraged members to make more information public--some of it involuntarily--as the social network continues to make the transition from a closed-off service to one that's full of searchable, real-time data.

Facebook, in return, says that it provided plenty of hand-holding for users making the switch.

"We have not seen the complaint but we are confident that the transition process begun more than a month ago was transparent, consistent with user expectations, and within the law," Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said in a statement from the company. "Specifically, the announcement and education campaign by Facebook around the changes was unprecedented in its scope and included a detailed preview of the changes and flows with the OPC. Any recommended changes to a user's privacy settings were clearly shown to the user repeatedly and were not implemented until the user accepted these changes. In addition, users were required to review the final settings after any changes and pointed to where they could reverse or further customize their settings."