Facebook settles with FTC on privacy complaints

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Palo Alto, Calif.—Facebook, long criticized for failures to safeguard users' private data, has settled with the Federal Trade Commission over complaints that the social site overrode users' own privacy settings and shared users' information with advertisers. Among the privacy abuses alleged by the FTC was that Facebook changed its website without notice so certain information users designated as private (such as their friends lists) was made public; shared private information with third parties despite promises it would not; claimed to have implemented security safeguards it did not; and allowed access to “deactivated” users' data after claiming it would be deleted. According to the settlement, Facebook is barred from making further deceptive privacy claims; must get users' approval before changing the way it shares personal data; and must obtain periodic assessments of its privacy practices by independent auditors for the next 20 years. The FTC did not levy a financial penalty against Facebook. In a blog post Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced he's creating two new positions at the company to comply with the terms of the settlement. Though the company did not formally admit guilt, Zuckerberg wrote in his post, “Overall, I think we have a good history of providing transparency and control over who can see your information. That said, I'm the first to admit that we've made a bunch of mistakes.”
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