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F.T.C. Probes Facebook’s Privacy Change
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Facebook again has gotten into hot water. The social media network’s new privacy policy is being probed by the F.T.C. On Wednesday the Federal Trade Commission began inquiring into Facebook’s new privacy policies. The social media company is suspected of violating a 2011 agreement with regulators, according to the NY Times. That 2011 agreement specifies that the social network needs explicit consent and permission from its user before it can take their private information outward to “new audiences.”

Users of the social media giant are required to allow their images, location, and personal information as advertising for Facebook, according to the new policy. This is a condition of using the social networking service. Statements from the company indicate that the language of the new policy was “required by the federal court,” as a judge in August approved “some of the wording” as part of a settlement in a class actions lawsuit that users brought when they saw how their faces, names and photos were used to endorse Facebook without their permission.


F.T.C. spokesman Peter Kaplan commented that Facebook is subject to oversight as they never discussed their changes with the Federal Trade Commission, and as such the F.T.C. is monitoring their compliance. Facebook spokeswoman, Jodi Seth commented that the company is in touch with the F.T.C. and “routinely discusses policy updates.” She clarifies that the new policies do not grant the social media company any more rights in using private information abut individual users but rather clarifies and explains the existing practices.

Senators and representatives have been applying pressure on the F.T.C. to handle the reigns on using users’ information in advertising. Senator Markey of Massachusetts asked for an investigation into Facebook’s new policy. He wrote that a number of questions are raised regarding whether Facebook is “improperly altering its privacy policy without proper user consent” in effect causing users to “lose control over their personal information.” The company came back and said that “the new policies do not change the rights its users have over personal data.”

Certain users didn’t like or agree to be ad-men and endorse products without compensation or explicit permission. Of course this led to a class action settlement. At this time after that settlement, Facebook now allows users to see exactly which “sponsored stories” their likeness is used in to give them some “control over how their names and photos are used” in future advertisements that are pitched to their friends.

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Many negative comments from users have caused the company to delay the new policy. The Electronic Privacy Information Center also wrote to the F.T.C., telling them that they need to act immediately. Advocates of digital privacy note that a certain provision in Facebook’s policy assumes that “the parents of teenagers using the service have given permission for their names and images to be used in Facebook advertising.” That is likely the furthest stretch in the policy’s assumptions.

Currently the policy is stalled while the F.T.C manages its probe into the issue.



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