Facebook has settled its privacy case with the Federal Trade Commission, which has been ongoing since 2009. The case stems from a change in Facebook’s privacy settings that year that made once private info public without warning. The company isn’t paying anything as part of the settlement, but, like Google, which settled its own privacy case, must have its privacy standards assessed by an outside group for the next 20 years and requires the social network to get the OK from people before it makes changes.
And the FTC really put its foot down with this mandate: “The proposed settlement bars Facebook from making any further deceptive privacy claims.” You can’t break the law again Facebook! Or else! (They typed the “or else” really hard on the keyboard for emphasis.)
Mark Zuckerberg, perhaps typing very gently, wrote in a blog post that despite all the good things that have come of Facebook, “I’m the first to admit that we’ve made a bunch of mistakes. In particular, I think that a small number of high profile mistakes, like Beacon four years ago and poor execution as we transitioned our privacy model two years ago, have often overshadowed much of the good work we’ve done.
“I’m committed to making Facebook the leader in transparency and control around privacy,” he goes on to say, adding a list of all the new doodads that have been added over the next year and a half, introducing new chief privacy officers, and “embracing” recommendations from the FTC.
So it’s your basic excuse-laden non-apology. Gawker says the government got played. Some commenters on the post boo; some still profess love for Facebook. AllThingsD has a history of their apologies, so we’ve forgiven before. (h/t @mathewi) IPO in 2012 right? And here are the top shared stories ever. Remember when your zodiac sign almost changed and you thought you were a Leo and then Facebook told you you weren’t? Whew. Facebook Facebook Facebook.
While pointing out that advertisers have been a little frustrated and cautious, this Forbes story says that marketers likely won’t see too many changes now, particularly because Facebook had made a lot of changes even before the settlement. So for now it seems that brand pages will likely be unaffected, though digital folks should still make sure not to overstep or irk consumers.
Just in case, maybe you want to take a look at this NPR Q&A that covers some of the details.