The New York Times reported on November 10 that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is nearing an agreement with Facebook to settle an action over “material retroactive changes” to Facebook’s privacy practices.
In December 2009 Facebook changed its privacy practices and publicly exposed information that it had previously told users they could keep private, such as profile photos and friend lists. Facebook also removed the ability to opt out of certain tools. In May 2010, after getting egg on its face for its botched attempt to “simplify” its privacy settings, Facebook restored the ability to opt out of some tools as well as the ability to keep certain information private.
While the final settlement deal has yet to be approved, the Times and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that Facebook will be subject to FTC privacy audits for 20 years. (Yikes!)
A simple issue with a simple fix … but a costly legal and PR snafu for Facebook.