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What the FTC Facebook settlement means for consumers

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The next time users visit Facebook, things might not look different, but big changes are brewing behind the scenes. The FTC’s record-breaking $5 billion settlement requires Facebook to conduct a massive overhaul of its consumer privacy practices. The settlement also makes major changes to Facebook’s operations and CEO Mark Zuckerberg no longer has sole control over privacy.

First, some background. Facebook is a social networking site, but it makes money by serving up targeted ads based on users’ personal information. Many consumers are hesitant about sharing certain data, so Facebook calms that concern by promising that people can control the privacy of their information through the platform’s privacy settings.

FTC Settlement with Facebook

The FTC sued Facebook in 2012 for making misleading promises about the extent to which consumers could keep their personal information private. For example, Facebook told users they could select settings to make information available just to “friends.” But despite that promise, Facebook allowed apps used by those friends to access consumers’ information, a decision that put money in Facebook’s pocket. The 2012 FTC order put penalties in place if Facebook made misleading statements in the future about consumers’ control over the privacy of their personal information.

According to the FTC, that’s just what happened. Facebook violated the order by again giving companies access to information that consumers said they didn’t want to share. The FTC also alleges Facebook made other misleading statements about how it used facial recognition, consumers’ cell phone numbers, and other personal data.

Here are three things to know about the FTC’s history-making settlement with Facebook.

Facebook will pay the largest civil penalty by anyone anywhere ever in a privacy case.

The $5 billion settlement is one for the record books. It’s the largest civil penalty ever imposed on a company for violating consumers’ privacy and it’s one of the largest penalties assessed by the U.S. government for a violation of any kind. That tells you just how seriously the FTC takes it when companies break their privacy promises. The settlement also sets a new benchmark if companies fail to honor their promises in the future. (In case you’re wondering about the $5 billion, by law, it goes to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury. It does not go to the FTC.)

The settlement requires fundamental changes at Facebook and removes CEO Mark Zuckerberg as the company’s consumer privacy decision maker.

The order establishes a new era of privacy transparency at Facebook and at WhatsApp and Instagram, which Facebook owns. It creates an independent committee of Facebook’s board of directors to oversee privacy decisions and requires an independent third-party assessor to evaluate the effectiveness of Facebook’s privacy program. Mark Zuckerberg also must certify every quarter that Facebook is in compliance with the new privacy program. Any false certification will be subject to civil – and criminal – penalties.

As Facebook puts its new privacy program in place, consumers should take a fresh look at their settings. 

How much personal information do you really want to share? A platform’s default settings may not be your most privacy-protective option. Whether it’s Facebook or any other platform, revisit your toolbars, privacy settings, etc., to make sure the system is set up to honor your choices and preferences.

 

Comments

It's about time...since being on Facebook my spam and robot calls had quadrupled, my cell phone and email has soared with spam nonsense....never ending..sometime same people several times a day

BRAVO!!!!!!! Big success!!!!!!!!!!! Finally. People all over the world so so proud of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you FTC!!!!

Proud of the FTC!
Let us all know when we can jump on this bandwagon!

Where is my part of the settlement? I was the one violated!

Thank you

The $5 billion penalty, by law, is going to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury.

since our information was shared why didn't we money from FB

The $5 billion penalty, by law, is going to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury.

I wonder the same

Thank you for your service in protecting our privacy

You guys really rock. Thank you for taking the time to address matters like this. It's disturbing to know that people will do anything for money. The company alone was a success. Greed drives people to make terrible business decisions.

THANK YOU FTC!! For finally catching the CEO of Facebook! He's not the only one you've caught up with over the year's. I rely on the notifications you send on all the latest Scams going around, plus pertinent Consumer Information . In my opinion, the FTC are the Guardians of the Internet, and without you, well, there are no words to describe the resulting chaos.

About time. Now they need to regulate all social media sites.

I've had my FB page hacked again last month. It isn't the first time.
I would get a pop up telling me my session has ended And it took me a couple of weeks to get my password to work

I have always enjoyed using Facebook. But I now feel that they have misused our trust and now make us feel that all companies are out to get us in one way or another. I put them on the level of Scammers. We should be compensated for this misuse. I have now become very careful in what I put on Facebook and have cautioned other Facebook user.

where does the money go?

The penalty, by law, goes to the U.S. Treasury, not the FTC. It is one of the largest penalties ever assessed by the U.S. government for any violation.

Does it go to the general fund, or is it earmarked for specific uses?

Well, we get shafted again. I believe that the people should received some of the money penalty, if only a set amount not to be construed as a payoff. The Facebook plenty should go to settled with the people who were the ones who where defrauded. This is a attack on the people and a right out thief of their information and in any other such action of a company and if this had happen to anyone else, they would be reimbursed with a monetary settlement. Giving it to the government is in my opinion a second act of fraud. I feel that the people who use Facebook will feel the same as I do if they thought about it. While I will continue to use Facebook because this is my way of staying in contact with my family and I am able to see my church when I can not go to church for the sermons are televised.

Lona I totally agree that the people who use Facebook should be the ones that get the money. Its another slap in the face that they're doing. If they were so concerned about our privacy they would've started to pay the settlement to us the victims.,

The fine they are paying isn’t intended to compensate the Facebook users they conned. The penalty is a punishment for violating the law. Technically, money in the US treasury is our money, but it’s unlikely to result in any tax breaks or refunds to taxpayers. It’ll probably be in a pool of funds earmarked for a specific use.
I suppose it would be possible for individuals to sue Facebook, but that would be an uphill battle and would likely be pushed into a class action lawsuit. Even winning would still be a loss since class action would reduce exposure to further lawsuits and the individuals who had their information taken and sold under false pretenses would get very little.

How much you pay for using facebook??

Need to do a class action suit in each state

The gov. gets the money because They sued FB for breaking the law not once, but twice.

So good to hear that. Well done job and please continue.
But FaceBook is not the only one; there may be others too.
What about Equifax; and Marriott hotel data breach: Is it still pending??

We choose not using any social media and feel great.

We think that ALL companies who use internet to do business, must follow your Privacy rules, among others, and pay for violations. All CEOs , CFOs , VP and the upper management are to be held accountable and LICENSED /Registered in their respective fields in their state to “practice”.
Now it is Iike “ Free for all” resulting in abuses and violations ; some put our lives in danger but fill their bank accounts and can afford good lawyers ( which most of us cannot)

FB needs to cut every adult user a check for using their personal information for monetary gain!

THANK YOU!!

For those complaining about getting the proceeds of the penalty. As a taxpayer, and a member of the government of-the-people, you ARE receiving the proceeds in presumably reduced taxes.

Receipts please!

Reduced taxes will certainly never happen from proceeds such as this or pretty much any reason.

Thank you! It was necessary,.

Thank you for protecting the privacy of American citizens.

How does the general fund of US Treasury benefit those of us violated by our information being shared?

Why does the money go to the government when I was a victim of ID Theft, not the government? My information has been in about 15-17 breaches because of Facebook, Equifax, etc. since 2013. Where's my compensation for all of the hell I went through to try to protect my accounts afterwards? Of course, to no avail? Facebook SHOULD be paying us, not the government!

If you were affected by the Equifax data breach, please read the information at www.FTC.gov/Equifax. 

Consider the Number of people using FB and how could they ever distribute the money to all those people. The expense of that would eat up all the money.

Consider the Number of people using FB and how could they ever distribute the money to all those people. The expense of that would eat up all the money.

Thank you FTC!!! <3 :D

THANK YOU FTC!!!

I completely deleted my facebook account with akm of my posts and pictures for about of decade's worth of social interaction with friends and family because of the so called "Privacys" that Facebook has had. I uninstalled Google Chrome because of the same reasons. I an glad it us being fixed, but the damage is done and I feel the "consumers" should be getting that money, not the treasury of the Federal government.

Sure, it would be great to get some of that settlement money...BUT the FCC is abiding by the law, which is more than we can say about Facebook. Just glad FCC pursued the problem and got the settlement.

Thanks for all your hard work!

I too have received to many to count emails/ spam. Every single day I have to spend a lot of time getting rid of the garbage. I’ve always suspected it was because of Facebook....hoping this fine works.

SO DOES THAT PAY OFF SOME OF THE NATIONAL DEBT.....INITIATING SOME TAX RELIEF ? JUST KIDDING, I KNOW IT WON'T HAPPEN

Well done FTC!!!! It is good see someone taking action about privacy. Social media platforms and marketers are very invasive.

Thank you FTC! I am so sick of all the abuses of our privacy. I would prefer not to use Facebook at all, but several of the businesses I frequent, post information there. I have found my restricted privacy settings changed more than once without my permission.
These companies need to allow us to completely delete our private information.
Keep up the good work!

Well done FTC! Hopefully this will take care of many of the repeated calls received on a daily basis and unwanted mail. However, the public needs to be more attentive to what they put “type” on any site. As a senior, and one who has taught internet safety when the internet first came into our homes, the moment you type a single word and press Enter, it is forever a part of watching eyes and doesn’t belong to you anymore. Just a reminder.

Why don't that 5 billion be shared with all of the Facebook users who have had there information shared and accounts broken into as a result of it.

How to join the lawsuit?

by law? Isnt our privacy been shared by Facebook? why did the pently go to treasury but the users?

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