Facebook Agrees To Settle With FTC Over Privacy Violation Charges

Three years after the Federal Trade Commission leveled charges against Facebook, claiming the social networking site violated users’ privacy, a settlement has been reached. Part of the terms of the proposed settlement requires Facebook to undergo audits for 20 years.

The FTC announced the news on its official site today, explaining the charges against Facebook. The government agency claimed, among other things, that Facebook told users their information would be kept private, even after an account was deleted, and then shared that info anyway.

Under the proposed terms of the settlement, Facebook must now get express consent from its users before sharing any information outside of that user’s privacy settings.

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

One of the terms of the proposed settlement will subject it to periodical assessments of its privacy practices for the next 20 years.

Consumerist’s benevolent benefactors at the Consumers Union also weighed in on the proposed settlement.

“When you share private, personal information with a company, that information should be treated with care and respect, and that company should adhere to the privacy preferences you choose,” says Ioana Rusu, regulatory counsel for Consumers Union. “Companies should not be able to alter privacy settings after the fact, exposing private information to the public at large and to third party marketers. This settlement upholds that principle. It sends a strong message to companies that they must live up to the privacy promises made to consumers.”

It’s worth noting that this is a proposed settlement, and as the blocked settlement against Citigroup showed us, not all such deals ultimately work out.

For a complete list of the charges the FTC aimed at Facebook, as well as the full terms of the proposed settlement, head over to the FTC’s site.

Facebook Settles FTC Charges That It Deceived Consumers By Failing To Keep Privacy Promises [Federal Trade Commission]