Facebook Settles Over 8 Counts of Privacy Violation

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) reached a settlement on privacy with Facebook Tuesday (November 29, 2011) over 8 counts of privacy violations.

Among them: sharing users’ personal information with third parties without their knowledge or consent, changing privacy practices without informing users, and claiming to have a program to verify the security of apps when it didn’t.

Examples of these violations:

  • In 2009 Facebook made some changes to its website, allowing certain information that users may have marked as private to be made public, which included friends lists.
  • Also, from September 2008 until mid-2010, advertisers had access to user information about any people who clicked on an ad, the FTC said. Advertisers could then use that data to access other information about them, such as name, personal traits and Internet-browsing habits.

As part of the settlement:

  • Facebook must get users’ permission “before performing changes that override their privacy preferences.”
  • Facebook must give, consumers “clear and prominent notice and obtaining consumers’ express consent before their information is shared beyond the privacy settings they have established”. This includes information shared with third-party apps.
  • Previously, people who left Facebook weren’t able to completely delete their data. As part of the settlement, Facebook agreed that 30 days after an account is deleted, no information will be available.
  • The site has agreed to an external privacy audit every two years for the next 20 years

According to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, while the commission doesn’t have the power to fine Facebook for past problems, future violations of the terms of the settlement carry a fine of $16,000 per day per violation.

Do you feel your privacy is now more protected on Facebook with this new settlement?

Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Genevieve Lachance is a web marketing consultant who has a passion for social media and technology based in Montreal, Canada. Read More About Me »