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Facebook Settles With FTC, Admits Privacy Violations 138

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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  • by CmdrPony ( 2505686 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:32PM (#38207148)
    Not only did they slap Facebook for privacy violations, but also Google a few months ago. They IMO are the two largest privacy violators on the internet.

    Now, maybe someone at Facebook will read this and notice: Please fix the chat so that if I have set it offline, it will not quickly popup me as online and then back offline when I later visit Facebook. It seems like a stupid bug. It also leads to stupid private messages (especially from my mother -_-) when I just want to check updates.

    Other than that, Facebook has done a pretty good job. It's still the most useful social network on the internet, and I doubt Google+ will be ever able to compete with it.
  • by forkfail ( 228161 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:41PM (#38207268)

    Probably never.

    Why? Because they fill a niche, and do it well. And the thing about social networks is this: whoever is the biggest is probably going to stay the biggest at this point. It's no good joining a social network that none of your friends use. And to some folks, Facebook is the internet.

    Not saying this is a good thing, or right - just my observations on the way that things are.

  • Re:Mistakes? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:50PM (#38207410) Homepage

    Well, neither does the FTC really. If they did, they might have introduced some actual penalties rather than a slap on the wrist.

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

    by CmdrPony ( 2505686 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:06PM (#38207610)
    Why should we change it? To what? I'm happy to see how easy it is keep contact with people and get to know new interesting places and guys and girls. This is especially true if you travel a lot, like I do. I noticed it's incredibly easy to use the connections you have on Facebook to find new stuff, be it other people, places, or even restaurants. I honestly don't think we had it any better before.

    For all its faults, Facebook has done incredible job at connecting just normal people all over the world. No matter if they related to you, your friends you have met somewhere, friends you haven't seen in a while or totally new people. It really has brought people closer to each other, and introduced people to other ones that share the same interests. You just have to know how to use it.
  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:53PM (#38208156)

    Not only did they slap Facebook [on the back] for privacy violations, but also Google

    They're getting another two years to put things in order before the first audit, then they get to do a half-year-screw-everyone, half-year-clean-up-the-mess between year-long audits.

    Further: The settlement is soft on Facebook; there are no fines or criminal penalties.

    So in addition to getting away Scott free, they have two years to clean up their act, by which time the opt-ins will be in place but so disguised and muted that users will fall into the same trap.

    Facebook users don't care about privacy, the whole point of Facebook is and always has been a meat market method of self promotion. Facebook knows this and will simply make it so limiting to do anything except opt-in that most users will simply check the Opt-In-to-Everything box.

  • by CmdrPony ( 2505686 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @08:41PM (#38209340)
    Care to point out what part of their 2008 EULA and/or privacy policy they broke?

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong