Facebook Privacy Policy Change Faces FTC Investigation

The FTC is now investigating Facebook's new privacy policy, citing a court order from 2011 on getting user consent on personal info.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, faces contention with the FTC over new rules changes on the social network.  (Image Source:  Reuters)

Recently, Facebook announced changes to its privacy policy, in part triggered by a recent court settlement.  Raising the ire of many was a rule change stating that by using the site, any media posted can be used and sold by Facebook without permission.  While Facebook claims that the rules have not changed that much, merely the language of the rules, privacy groups still raised red flags over the matter, especially given the unfortunate implications of the changes.  Now, the Federal Trade Commission is stepping into the fray, and investigating the policy change.

At the heart of the matter is a 2011 court order by the FTC and government regulators to Facebook.  In it, Facebook is required to receive explicit consent from users to use their personal information in ads or other services.  The new rule changes proposed by Facebook would run in complete contradiction with the court order.  After news of the Facebook rule changes were made, the FTC told various news sources that they are now investigating the company in relation to their court order.  The FTC claims that Facebook did not notify them of the rule changes, and thus are monitoring the situation closely.

Facebook, for its part, continues to claim that the rules are not new, and merely clarifications of the rules.  Furthermore, Facebook even claims that the rule changes were caused by their recent court settlement, in which they settled a class-action lawsuit with more than 600,000 users for the pithy sum of $14 million. This brings up the problem of which court order is given superiority.

Still, the bigger question remains:  It is obvious that people do not want the rule changes.  Why must Facebook persist?  Is there not a less invasive way for Facebook to gain revenue off users?  Surely, shareholders are not that desperate for short-term gains, right?  Right?

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