FTC’s settlement with Facebook underscores that the social media giant has long misled users and the public

Statement of Jeff Chester:

Washington, November 29, 2011:  "Since 2007, the social media giant has purposefully worked to erode the concept of privacy by disingenuously claiming users want to share all their personal information.  But very few of Facebook’s more than 850 million users understand—let alone can control—the vast amounts of data mining used to propel its advertising business (in 2011, Facebook is predicted to top $4 billion in ad revenues). Facebook’s drive to reap the rewards of a potentially ground-breaking IPO next Spring has also helped unleash a range of data practices that stealthily monetizes the actions and interests of users and their networks of friends.  For example, there are now a complex of Facebook tools designed to help marketing campaigns trigger a range of “experiences” and actions tied to measureable events.  Facebook has also increasingly focused on a “social by design” concept in an effort to help its advertisers utilize “profile data.”

Once the FTC consent decree is finalized, Facebook users will have new tools at their disposal to help ensure their privacy is better protected.  If Facebook makes any claim that is found to be untrue, they can press the FTC to conduct a review, order a correction and require the imposition of financial penalties.  We applaud the FTC for conducting a much-needed investigation of Facebook and diligently pursuing this settlement.  CDD joined with the Electronic Privacy Information Center and other groups petitioning the FTC to investigate Facebook’s privacy practices.  We will work to ensure that Facebook’s further expansion into mobile marketing, social commerce and online gaming doesn’t come at the expense of user privacy. 

However, this proposed settlement also requires leadership changes at Facebook.  They misled consumers and should pay a price beyond a 20 year agreement to conduct their business practices in a more above-board fashion.  We call on Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook board of directors to accept responsibility for this breech of conduct.  They should resign and be replaced by officials that have strong pro-privacy credentials."