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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Facebook Accepted Regular Privacy Audits

Facebook, referred to as a private information harvesting service,
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has recently agreed with the Federal Trade Commission of the United States and accepted 20-year privacy settlement.


The Federal Trade Commission claimed two years ago that Facebook had acted irresponsibly when turning on some profile features as public by default. Such features could include name, photo, and friends list. The problem of Facebook is the way it deals with defaults. In fact, when it brings in something new, it does so in silence. Only after that it asks that users turn the features off instead of turning them on. Apparently, the FTC didn’t like that and decided that Facebook must submit to independent privacy audits every 2 years, over the next 20 years.

Facebook was charged with 8 counts of user privacy described as both unfair and deceptive, including Facebook’s promises to introduce extra privacy instruments that finally didn’t do much about privacy itself. Also, the promise of the company about 3rd party applications only getting access to what they need to run didn’t happen.

In case the outfit fails in the privacy audits, it could be fined up to $16,000 per day per infringement. In spite of the Facebook’s enormous wealth, they still won’t be happy to lose such amount. The social network must now explicitly ask its members for their permission to turn on any new features. The company is probably counting on the lazy majority to click “agree” so they can zoom through to their notifications. However, it can’t be a coincidence that the service is so prepared to roll back and accept the requirements of the Federal Trade Commission.

The speculations are that the social network is getting ready for an initial public offering at $10 billion. In case Facebook fails going for the IPO, the company would be forced to disclose its financials anyway because its shareholders number reaches the limit. In other words, this is a move that makes sense. Nevertheless, the investors have still been worried about the company’s bizarre ideas about privacy, and the cooperation with the Federal Trade Commission could ease those fears.

Meanwhile, the website will face scrutiny over its privacy practices in the European Union as well, because it operates from Ireland. Despite the fact that privacy penalties of Ireland wouldn’t cost the company much, recently some students revealed just how much information Facebook holds on users, regardless of whether they’ve deleted it or not. 

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