The world grows “smaller” and “flatter” in bits, small chunks, each and every day.
Take this article from der Spiegel International Edition. Facebook (FB) is a global social phenomenon. Myself, I have FB friends all over the world. Some of my FB friends find using FB convenient to stay in contact while abroad. Others find that using FB is not particularly reliable all of the time because some governments control access to the global social network.
Facebook, a U.S.A. company, is an international player within the telecommunication industry. Due to its international presence, Facebook is susceptible to legal and cultural forces around the globe. Users in Germany, for example, startled that Facebook would use their email accounts to encourage non-users to join, petitioned the German government to work on their behalf to encourage Facebook to alter the sharing of non-Facebook friends.
Perhaps in the interest of being a benevolent benefactor of social networking, Facebook modified its sharing procedures, due to influence in Germany.
In some ways, particularly privacy, Europe is more conservative than the United States. United States citizens tend to believe that European countries are more liberal, socialists, where everything is “grey” and there are no simple “black & white” issues.
Not true. Much of Europe is conservative, particularly when it comes to privacy. They express those conservative views in ways that are quiet, subdued, and respectful. For the most part. People mind their own business.
When a company comes along and violates that privacy, populations act accordingly, through the government, to institute change. Microsoft has complied in the past; Facebook is simply the latest technology company to listen to its user base.