What Facebook’s $7 billion fine means for your privacy

The US Federal Trade Commission is aiming to prevent Facebook from deceiving users.

facebook privacy

Facebook will pay a record-breaking $7.26 billion penalty –and submit to new restrictions that will hold the company accountable for the decisions it makes about users’ privacy – to settle US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges.

The penalty is the largest ever imposed on any company for violating consumers’ privacy and almost 20 times greater than the largest privacy or data security penalty ever imposed worldwide.

The settlement order also imposes unprecedented new restrictions on Facebook’s business operations and creates multiple channels of compliance.

The order requires Facebook to restructure its approach to privacy from the corporate board-level down, establishes strong new mechanisms to ensure that Facebook executives are accountable for the decisions they make about privacy and that those decisions are subject to meaningful oversight.

“Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they could control how their personal information is shared, Facebook undermined consumers’ choices,” said FTC chairman Joe Simons.

“The relief is designed not only to punish future violations but, more importantly, to change Facebook’s entire privacy culture to decrease the likelihood of continued violations.”

Following a year-long investigation, the US Department of Justice will file a complaint on behalf of the FTC alleging that Facebook repeatedly used deceptive disclosures and settings to undermine users’ privacy preferences.

These tactics allowed the company to share users’ personal information with third-party apps that were downloaded by users’ Facebook ‘friends’.

The FTC alleges that many users were unaware that Facebook was sharing such information and therefore did not take the steps needed to opt out of sharing.

In addition, the FTC alleges that Facebook took inadequate steps to deal with apps that it knew were violating its platform policies.

To prevent Facebook from deceiving its users about privacy in the future, the FTC’s new 20-year settlement order overhauls the way the company makes privacy decisions by boosting the transparency of decision-making and holding Facebook accountable via overlapping channels of compliance.

Additionally, the order imposes significant new privacy requirements, including the following:

  • Facebook must exercise greater oversight over third-party apps, including by terminating app developers that fail to certify they are in compliance with Facebook’s platform policies or fail to justify their need for specific user data.
  • Facebook is prohibited from using telephone numbers obtained to enable a security feature (e.g., two-factor authentication) for advertising.
  • Facebook must provide clear and conspicuous notice of its use of facial recognition technology, and obtain affirmative express user consent prior to any use that materially exceeds its prior disclosures to users.
  • Facebook must establish, implement and maintain a comprehensive data security program.
  • Facebook must encrypt user passwords and regularly scan to detect whether any passwords are stored in plain text.
  • Facebook is prohibited from asking for email passwords to other services when consumers sign up for its services.

Do you use Facebook regularly? Are you worried about your privacy when you use social media? Do you think you will ever be able to trust Facebook again?

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    13th Aug 2019
    I've never trusted Facebook in the past and see no reason to trust it in the future, even with the much stricter legal controls. It's a company set up to make money and it will continue to find every possible way it can to re-interpret conditions to suit it's own monetary goals. That's what companies do. Having said that, 7.26 billion dollars is an awful lot of money even to a company the size of Facebook. I predict this will mean a lot more effort will go into Facebook's determination to hide what it does behind legal terminology and super clever faceless legal eagles. Lots of people make lots of money out of Facebook ...... and guess whose pockets it comes from? Yep. ultimately ours, the users.
    13th Aug 2019
    Yes - would have been better to see some of the $7 billion paid out to people hurt by Facebook's crimes.

    Also - did you notice how many websites appeared at the bottom of your screen under "Waiting for...." when you typed your reply? Privacy is not protected here either.
    13th Aug 2019
    Nothing posted on-line is protected and Facebook is no different.

    I have no social media accounts - after all who cares what I had for breakfast or last night's diner!
    13th Aug 2019
    I am with you KSS, went over 70 years without Facebook et al and see no need to change now.
    An interesting observation from my 21 year old grandson when we were watching news reports about the two teenage fugitives in Canada. After the first week he suggested they must be dead, they could not survive without their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.
    13th Aug 2019
    Yep i was one of the many people that my email address had been hacked through facebook. I got a Facebook posting from them warning me about this. Sure enough some weeks later
    I started getting terrible scam emails saying that that I had been looking at bad things(porn I guess) and they had hacked my computer and was going to all of my friend if I didn;t but a certain amount of bit coins before a certain time. Know I don't look at porn etc. I knew I was okay, but the way the email was written i was actually quite scared that they cold have possibly hacked into my computer. I was that scared I phoned the police. he convinced me that it would be okay. And nothing happened. Yep so is a real problem.
    Julie Hannah
    26th Jan 2020
    Facebook and facebook apps are trying to steal your information even if your mobile is off the app are stealing your data while offline. I remember when i was working with Digital Gravity www.digitalgravity.ae one of our client demand us to the access of all user data.
    Julie Hannah
    26th Jan 2020
    Facebook and facebook apps both are stealing your data while your phone is offline and they have all the access of your data on your microphone gallery etc. I remember when I was working with digital marketing company I want us to give them full access of end user data.

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