FTC to Facebook: We’re Watching You

Social network must obtain users' permission before sharing data

The Federal Trade Commission put Facebook on formal notice Friday, approving a settlement to make sure the social network can't play fast and loose with the privacy of its one billion users.

To ensure it lives up to its promises, Facebook must give consumers "clear and prominent notice" and "obtain their express consent before sharing their information beyond their privacy settings," the FTC said. Facebook must also submit to third-party privacy audits for the next 20 years. Each violation of the order could cost the company up to $16,000 a day in civil penalties.

Facebook was faulted by the FTC last November for a number of instances where information that was formerly designated by users as private was made public such as a users Friends List. The FTC also accused the social network of misrepresenting how much user information third-party apps could access.

The commission approved the final order 3-1-1 with commissioner J. Thomas Rosch dissenting and new commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen not participating. Rosch dissented because of Facebook's denial of liability.

"We view the final consent order in this matter to be a major step forward for consumer privacy," the commission said in a statement.

Facebook said it was "pleased" that the settlement proposed in November had received final approval, deferring to comment beyond Mark Zuckerberg's original blog post.


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