Facebook to Settle with the Federal Trade Commission Regarding Broken Privacy Promises

In a press release, today, the Federal Trade Commission gave news that it had reached a settlement with Facebook regarding charges of consumer deception and broken privacy promises. Although the document noted that the charges fell under the umbrella category of “administrative complaint,” and did not constitute a ruling with respect to the violation of the law, the commission believes that Facebook transgressed federal law when it told users that their information would remain private and unavailable to third parties like advertisers or the general public, which was not the case. The FTC called Facebook’s claims “unfair and deceptive.”

With the settlement, which is open to public comments until December 30th of this year, Facebook will agree to henceforth give “clear and prominent notice and obtai[n] consumers’ express consent before their information is shared beyond the privacy settings they have established.” Another part of the deal is that for the coming twenty years, Facebook will undergo regular audits, about every two years, to assess its privacy practices.

Jon Leibowits, the FTC’s chairman, said that “Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its hundreds of millions of users,” and that “Facebook’s innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy.” Adding, “The FTC action will ensure it will not.”

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