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Facebook Government Privacy Your Rights Online

Facebook Settles With FTC, Admits Privacy Violations 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the present-your-wrist-for-a-slapping dept.
Animats writes "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 settlement is soft on Facebook; there are no fines or criminal penalties. According to the FTC, 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. Facebook didn't warn users that this change was coming, or get their approval in advance.' Among the other complaints (PDF), '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.'" The settlement demands that Facebook avoid any new deceptive privacy claims, and also that users must give explicit permission for changes to be made to their privacy preferences. Facebook will be audited every two years for the next two decades to make sure they're holding up their end of the settlement. In a lengthy statement on Facebook's blog, Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that they'd made mistakes.
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Facebook Settles With FTC, Admits Privacy Violations

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  • Mixed Feelings. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forkfail (228161) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:36PM (#38207206)

    On the one hand, good on the FTC. Especially for the followup reviews.

    On the other hand, this once again proves that it's far easier to just do something contractually and ethically questionable yet massively profitable and wiggle out of the consequences later (especially if you've the money for a squadron of lawyers) than to do things above the board from the get go.

  • Mistakes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jazman_777 (44742) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:39PM (#38207248) Homepage
    Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that they'd made mistakes.

    Because they don't believe they did wrong. They really believe they made mistakes, the first of which was "get caught."

  • Re:Mixed Feelings. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CmdrPony (2505686) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:39PM (#38207252)
    What should FTC have done? Fine them for some hundred thousands? Facebook has the cash. Shut down the company? Facebook is based in Ireland, and it would mean lots of shit to many people (like it or not, Facebook has become part of life for almost every human on earth)
  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:41PM (#38207272)

    I wouldn't trust Zuckerberg to watch my dog and yet 100s of millions of people entrust his company with their most personal information. Odd, that.

  • Re:Mixed Feelings. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dr.banes (823348) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:41PM (#38207278)

    On the one hand, good on the FTC. Especially for the followup reviews.

    On the other hand, this once again proves that it's far easier to just do something contractually and ethically questionable yet massively profitable and wiggle out of the consequences later (especially if you've the money for a squadron of lawyers) than to do things above the board from the get go.

    Yeah, better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.

  • Re:Mixed Feelings. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:46PM (#38207336)
    Too big to fail eh? What you do is fine them. Hit them in the pocket book. That's what you are suppose to do.

    FYI Facebook is not based in Ireland. That's for accounting practices.
  • by homsar (2461440) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:52PM (#38207440)
    Facebook broke the law. As punishment, Facebook has to promise not to do it again, and be monitored to make sure it keeps its promise. I guess Facebook is only seven years old, and since companies have the same rights as people (apparently), I guess it makes sense they are given punishment befitting a person of that age.
  • Every two YEARS?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by webdog314 (960286) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:52PM (#38207442)

    In Facebook's case those audits should probably be about once every two months... There was a new violation (location tracking) on the iOS mobile app just this week.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:55PM (#38207464) Homepage

    This is pointing out one of the many problems with social network BS: The word "friend" has been hijacked and turned into "somebody you kinda sorta know from somewhere" rather than "somebody you choose to spend significant amounts of time with but isn't a family member".

    Nobody has 300 real friends, I promise you that much.

  • by Zadaz (950521) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:59PM (#38207538)

    Every two years for two decades!?!?!??!

    I bet all my private information that Facebook won't be around in 20 years. And 2 years is enough time to cause a ridiculous amount of damage when you have a billion users.

    I bet they're quaking in their repentant boots.

  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:27PM (#38207844) Homepage Journal
    It's even simpler than that. There will soon be a generation of kids who wouldn't be caught dead on the same social network as their parents. Eventually, we will get to a point where Facebook will be for old people, just like email is considered by the under-25 set now.

    Now you kids get off my lawn!
  • Re:Mixed Feelings. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chewbacon (797801) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:38PM (#38207960)
    Agreed. The damage is done and irreversible and Facebook is getting off pretty much free for it. All of those companies that had accessed that data is sitting on top of it now and can do whatever they would like with it.
  • Never. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Caerdwyn (829058) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:39PM (#38207982) Journal

    Facebook will never hold to privacy agreements OR to FTC/court rulings, because it is far too profitable to break those agreements or rulings. After all, there are no real consequences for doing so. Given that Zuckerberg holds all of Facebook's users in open,. sneering contempt (in the same way that many ./ commenters do), what possible motive would he have to comply? It's not like the FTC is ever going to touch him.

    Or, to restate: there is a word for law enforcement without teeth. That word is "bitch". The FTC is Zuckerberg's bitch; they've conclusively proved it.

    Assholes remain assholes until there is a credible threat of physical violence; nothing else motivates them. Robber barons remain robber barons unless there is a credible threat of having everything they own seized and sold; nothing else motivates them. Right now, there is no credibility to anything that the FTC says, so nothing's changed.

  • Re:Mixed Feelings. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @07:52PM (#38208846)

    The difference is that Google sells views and Facebook sells information. Both are potentially worrying, but of the two I'd be a lot more concerned about Facebook.

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