Accusing Facebook of “unfair and deceptive” business practices, the federal government on Tuesday announced a proposed settlement that compels the company to obtain its users’ consent before making changes to privacy settings, and to subject itself to an independent audit on consumer privacy for the next 20 years.
The strongly worded order, announced by the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, stems in large part from changes that Facebook made to its users’ privacy protocols in December 2009. The commission alleged that Facebook made public information that users had designated as private, without warning them or obtaining their consent.
Facebook also allowed advertisers to have access to personally identifiable information each time a Facebook user clicked on an ad on the Facebook site. And it allowed third-party applications to have access to data that users had intended for their listed friends to see. All told, the commission listed eight allegations. It levied no fines, but said the company would be liable to pay $16,000 a day for each allegation if they violated the settlement in the future. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Facebook, conceded in a lengthy blog post that the company had made “a bunch of mistakes,” but he said it had already fixed several of the issues cited by the commission. “Facebook has always been committed to being transparent about the information you have stored with us – and we have led the Internet in building tools to give people the ability to see and control what they share,” the post read. By SOMINI SENGUPTA Published: November 29, 2011
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