Google outperformed several other tech giants in Silicon Valley on digital freedom of expression and Internet privacy, including competitors Twitter and Facebook, according to a newly released index of corporate responsibility from the research consortium Ranking Digital Rights.
Facebook suffers from a lack of clarity about what users of its affiliate destinations like Whatsapp and Instagram can expect from online user policy statements, but the core Facebook service scored high when it comes to what content the service will permit to be posted, what will be removed and how the rules are enforced. Twitter, meanwhile, scored high on disclosing to users how personal information is used for advertising purposes, but it wasn’t always clear when Twitter’s Vine service was covered by the parent company’s policies.
While Google bested competitors overall, the researchers concluded there was less available evidence that it sufficiently respected “Do Not Track” requests from consumers seeking to limit how much personal information could be gobbled up by third-party advertisers about browsing habits online.
Gmail, YouTube, Twitter and Vine all out-shined Facebook on whether users are required to confirm their identity or are restricted from using anonymous online identities. Even the Facebook services Whatsapp and Instagram fall in line with Google and Twitter on permitting people not to use their real name. But Facebook’s core service has long run into complaints from digital rights advocates about its strictly enforced “real name” policy.
Under pressure, Facebook recently announced that it was testing ways to improve the policy, but a company executive stopped short of saying users would no longer be required to use their name from real life. Critics have said the policy can create problems for victims of domestic violence and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people facing harassment.