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Facebook Settlement FTC: Company Taking Steps To Improve Privacy

11/29/2011 05:00 PM ET

Facebook Settlement FTC - Facebook has just settled a U.S. Federal Trade Commission complaint from 2009 about its privacy practices. The deal, which will require the social networking site to take a number of steps to improve its privacy policies and practices. However, there are additional steps for the company to take.

The FTC charges that Facebook “deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.”

The settlement comes as Facebook may be considering (as if we didn’t already know) an initial public offering of stock. Getting privacy concerns out of the way would remove a roadblock, albeit probably minor, from what will surely be the signature IPO of the decade. The deal, which can be seen in detail here but which had been expected for weeks, calls for the following measures:

Specifically, under the proposed settlement, Facebook is:

“barred from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers’ personal information;required to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before enacting changes that override their privacy preferences; required to prevent anyone from accessing a user’s material no more than 30 days after the user has deleted his or her account; required to establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program designed to address privacy risks associated with the development and management of new and existing products and services, and to protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers’ information; and required, within 180 days, and every two years after that for the next 20 years, to obtain independent, third-party audits certifying that it has a privacy program in place that meets or exceeds the requirements of the FTC order, and to ensure that the privacy of consumers’ information is protected.”

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