The Wall Street Journal

What the FTC's Crackdown on Facebook Means for User Data


Facebook must pay a $5 billion fine after the FTC found the social media company deceived users and improperly managed their personal data. Under the settlement, Facebook is also subject to stricter oversight on how it manages user data. WSJ explains what that means for users.

Photo: Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

#WSJ #Facebook #DataPrivacy

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- In July, the Federal Trade Commission
fined Facbook for $5 billion for violating users' privacy.
This is the largest fine the FTC has ever levied
against a business.
In 2012, the commission sued Facebook
for misleading consumers
about third-party access to user data,
and more recently, the FTC found that Facebook
was again sharing data with third-party companies
even though many consumers had requested
that their data remained private.
The settlement puts Facebook under more intense scrutiny
from the commission.
Here's how the FTC says their rules for Facebook
could protect consumers.
Change number one, third-party apps
will find it harder to get at your data.
The settlement will force Facebook to increase
its management of third-party developers.
Facebook must now terminate developer access
to user information if that developer
can't justify their need for that data.
Change number two, Facebook will need your active consent
to keep your facial-recognition data.
The FTC writes that the company must delete
any existing facial-recognition data
within 90 days of the order
unless the company obtains users' affirmative consent
to use it on templates in the future.
Change number three, Facebook can't use your phone number
for its advertising business without your consent.
Has Facebook ever requested
that you add a phone number for added security?
It turns out Facebook may have used it to help sell ads.
The new FTC order mandates that any given number
in the guise of enhanced security
may not be shared with advertisers or other third parties.
Change number four, Facebook must quickly notify authorities
when data has been compromised.
The order also mandates that Facebook increase transparency
when data of 500 or more users has been compromised.
Facebook has to deliver notice within 30 days
of the company's discovery of the incident
alongside a description of steps
taken to remediate the issue.
The order will not resolve every issue
that consumers may have with Facebook.
In a press hearing, multiple FTC representatives
stressed that changes may not be immediately obvious.
- It is not the purpose of this investigation
to vindicate every concern
that the world has about Facebook.
We have big national conversations going on
about the company and others like it right now.
Those are important conversations.
They're going to continue.
- Some at the FTC say the restrictions don't go far enough.
One commissioner said that the settlement
imposes no meaningful changes on the systems
that led to these violations.
The FTC order is narrowly focused on Facebook
and more limited in scope than Europe's
General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.
That's because the U.S. doesn't have a comprehensive
privacy protection law, FTC officials say.
For that reason, FTC officials say they can't do much
to limit the kinds of data Facebook's collecting.
Instead, they have to focus on making sure
that Facebook doesn't continue misleading consumers
about how their data is being used.
In a press release, Facebook said that the settlement
will, quote, "mark a sharper turn toward privacy,
"on a different scale than anything we've done in the past."
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