FTC approves final Facebook settlement

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accepted a finalized settlement with Facebook on Aug. 9, calling for a 20-year “prohibition on deception,” says FTC attorney Laura Berger. As per the agreement, the social network must notify consumers and receive their expressed consent before sharing users’ information outside of the established Facebook privacy settings. The settlement was first proposed November 2011.

The FTC’s complaint accused Facebook of eight separate counts related to privacy and other issues, including safe harbor violations, disclosure of photos and videos through URLs, and providing apps with unrestricted access to users’ profile information, Berger says.

“It’s important that users have accurate information about the consequences of using those apps.” she adds.

With regard to advertising, the FTC alleges that Facebook was deceptive in that the social network violated its word to not share information with advertisers. According to the FTC, an advertiser could obtain a user’s ID if a consumer clicked on an advertisement that was shown to him,Berger says.

“[Advertisers] could also use that information and combine it with the traits they used to target the user,” says Berger.

In addition to prohibiting Facebook from performing any further deceptive actions and requiring it to receive consumers’ consent prior to sharing information, the FTC is also enforcing third-party privacy assessments every other year, Berger says. Violation of these requirements could result in a $16,000 penalty per infraction.

“We are pleased that the settlement, which was announced last November, has received final approval,” Facebook said in a statement.

Facebook’s first compliance report is due 90 days after the first serving, Berger says.

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