Share & Connect
The social networking service Facebook has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.
The proposed settlement requires Facebook to take several steps to make sure it lives up to its promises in the future, including giving consumers clear and prominent notice and obtaining consumers’ express consent before their information is shared beyond the privacy settings they have established.
The FTC’s eight-count complaint against Facebook is part of the agency’s ongoing effort to make sure companies live up to the privacy promises they make to American consumers. It charges that the claims that Facebook made were unfair and deceptive, and violated federal law.
“Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its hundreds of millions of users,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. “Facebook’s innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy. The FTC action will ensure it will not.”
The FTC complaint lists a number of instances in which Facebook allegedly made promises that it did not keep:
The proposed settlement bars Facebook from making any further deceptive privacy claims, requires that the company get consumers’ approval before it changes the way it shares their data, and requires that it obtain periodic assessments of its privacy practices by independent, third-party auditors for the next 20 years.
Specifically, under the proposed settlement, Facebook is:
The proposed order also contains standard record-keeping provisions to allow the FTC to monitor compliance with its order.
Facebook’s privacy practices were the subject of complaints filed with the FTC by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and a coalition of consumer groups.