Facebook's Challenge: Clean up Image

Facebook has had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month, and it's only getting worse.

Where to start? E-mails leaked, private IM conversations exposed, apps sneaking into profiles, creepy geolocation additions -- the worries mount. It's hard to distinguish what Facebook is actually doing right.

And now the social networking giant is holding hands with the former Bush administration, hiring an ex-regulator to defend its privacy practices. The Bush administration isn't exactly known for its protection of civil liberties, and for Facebook to associate itself with a shadowy presidency is likely to rile quite a few people.

Tim Muris, the Republican former chairman of the FTC, is now (perhaps ironically) defending Facebook against the FTC's scrutiny. Muris, who created the popular do-not-call list, declined to comment to The Financial Times.

The FTC is miffed about Facebook's Instant Personalization (connecting with outside Web sites), leaking info and publicizing "likes" and interests. And let's not forget the ten other privacy groups rallying against the site.

But the Facebook staff isn't turning only to Republicans. Last year Facebook beefed up its team by hiring Tim Sparapani, previously the senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, to be its director of public policy.

Facebook has a lot of work to do if it wants to establish a reputation other than one synonymous with leaks, breaks, and bugs. Despite having more than 400 million users, Facebook is deteriorating into the flaky zone. It's time for Facebook to get serious about privacy.

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