The social networking giant settled charges that it duped consumers into believing their information could be kept private and then shared it, the Federal Trade Commission said today.
The settlement requires Facebook to be clearer about what it could do with user information and obligates the company to get consumer consent before overriding their privacy choices.
“Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its hundreds of millions of users,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. “Facebook’s innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy. The FTC action will ensure it will not.”
This is the FTC’s list of Facebook’s failed privacy promises:
- In December 2009, Facebook changed its website so certain information that users may have designated as private – such as their Friends List – was made public. They didn’t warn users that this change was coming, or get their approval in advance.
- Facebook represented that third-party apps that users’ installed would have access only to user information that they needed to operate. In fact, the apps could access nearly all of users’ personal data – data the apps didn’t need.
- Facebook told users they could restrict sharing of data to limited audiences – for example with “Friends Only.” In fact, selecting “Friends Only” did not prevent their information from being shared with third-party applications their friends used.
- Facebook had a “Verified Apps” program & claimed it certified the security of participating apps. It didn’t.
- Facebook promised users that it would not share their personal information with advertisers. It did.
- Facebook claimed that when users deactivated or deleted their accounts, their photos and videos would be inaccessible. But Facebook allowed access to the content, even after users had deactivated or deleted their accounts.
- Facebook claimed that it complied with the U.S.- EU Safe Harbor Framework that governs data transfer between the U.S. and the European Union. It didn’t.