The FTC’s Settlement With Facebook Will Reportedly Cover Additional Privacy Allegations

A complaint will address users’ phone numbers and facial recognition

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks in front of an image of a lock
Multiple sources expect the FTC’s announcement of its settlement with Facebook to come Wednesday. Getty Images

More troubling allegations against Facebook will be included when the settlement details are revealed from the Federal Trade Commission’s probe of Facebook’s privacy practices.

Tony Romm of The Washington Post reported that multiple sources expect the FTC’s announcement to come Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that the commission approved a $5 billion settlement with the social network, marking the largest penalty the FTC ever imposed on a tech company.

According to Romm, connected to the settlement is an FTC complaint alleging that Facebook misled users about how it handled their phone numbers and that the social network failed to provide users with adequate information about their ability to turn off a facial-recognition feature.

Neither the FTC nor Facebook would comment on the report.

Two people familiar with the matter told Romm that the phone number issue is tied to Facebook’s implementation of two-factor authentication, a security feature in which users receive single-use passwords via text message to log in to the social network.

Romm reported that the complaint will allege that some people who uploaded their phone numbers to use two-factor authentication were targeted by advertisers based on that information.

The complaint will also allege that some 30 million people did not receive sufficient information about their ability to disable a facial-recognition tool that identified people in photos on the social network and offered tag suggestions.

Romm credited Consumer Reports with bringing the tag suggestions issue to light.

In addition to the $5 billion fine, the settlement includes more federal oversight over Facebook’s business practices, including the creation of a special committee on the company’s board of directors to certify that user data is being handled properly, Romm reported in May.

Facebook will not be required to admit wrongdoing, however. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.