Following a series of messages questioning Facebook's data-sharing practices, government regulators are scrutinizing how the social media company deals with its users' personal information.
It's not the first time Facebook has pulled control of the government. About seven years ago, after the Federal Trade Commission charged fees, the company agreed with the agency to revise its privacy practices.
This agreement, known as the Approval Decree, contains a roadmap, such as the F.T.C. is likely to take Facebook in the coming months under the microscope.
Why did the F.T.C. Accuse Facebook of fraudulent privacy practices?
In 2007, Facebook launched Facebook Beacon, a program that provided details on online purchases of users to friends. First, it allowed users to disable their purchases for one case only on a case-by-case basis.
Mark Zuckerberg, head of Facebook, apologized for what described in an article in the New York Times as the "Symphony of Repentance." In a Facebook post, Mr. Zuckerberg wrote this year, "I'm not proud of how we dealt with this situation, and I know we can do better."
In late 2009, a coalition of non-profit consumer and non-profit organizations requested Data Protection Groups, led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Federal Trade Commission investigate Facebook's dealings with Facebook.
The groups filed a complaint alleging that Facebook has repeatedly flouted users' expectations and compromised their privacy alleging that the company has violated a federal law that prohibits unfair and fraudulent business practices.
In 2011, the FTC filed an indictment of Facebook stating that the company had deceived consumers about their privacy.
What were the charges by FTC against Facebook?
FTC's complaint raises Facebook m more serious fraudulent privacy practices. Among them:
■ Facebook shared users' personal information with users, although the company had promised not to do so, the agency said.
■ Facebook allowed third-party apps that users had installed to have access to almost all of the personal information – although Facebook had indicated that the apps could only receive the personal information they needed to operate, the agency said.
■ In 2009, the agency said, Facebook changed its information handling practices and publicly disclosed certain personal information, such as users' friend lists, overriding the selection of individuals wishing to keep this information secret. According to the FTC policy change, users' profile information, including "possibly controversial political views or other sensitive information", has been disclosed to third parties.
■ The agency said the security measures had been confirmed by Facebook by apps participating in its Verified Apps program, but did not.
What did the FTC do? to do from Facebook?
In November 2011, Facebook agreed to clarify complaints about consumer delusion by "explaining that they could keep their information secret on Facebook, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and published," says F.T.C. said in a statement at that time.
The agreement, which was concluded in 2012, prohibited Facebook from misleading consumers about their privacy and security. The social network pledged to seek explicit user consent before making any changes that override their privacy preferences.
The agency ordered Facebook to set up a comprehensive privacy program to protect the privacy and confidentiality of users' information and control the risks of existing and new products.
In addition, over the next 20 years, Facebook had to conduct biennial audits by an independent third party to confirm that the privacy program properly protects the information of its users.
Why is the federal declaration of consent now relevant? 19659005] In March 2018, The New York Times reported that a voter profiling company, Cambridge Analytica, had collected the personal information of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge or permission.
The voter profiling company received the data from a researcher who had offered a personality survey app on Facebook. Although only about 270,000 Facebook users have agreed to share their survey data, the app on the Facebook platform was unable to obtain the personal information of millions of friends of those users – consumers who did not agree to their information to share with the survey app, The Times reported.
Privacy experts, law professors and at least one former FTC official have argued that Facebook's failure to block the survey app from receiving users' friends violates federal agency approval. According to critics, Facebook could not prevent the app developer from sharing both user and friends' data with Cambridge Analytica.
The Cambridge Analytica episode indicated that Facebook did not adequately conduct the risk assessments. The agreement required it. He also did not receive the required express consent of the users' friends for the exchange of their data with third parties, according to the experts for data protection.
They also argued that Facebook did not implement a comprehensive privacy program and did not take proper precautions – steps that the company was required to adhere to.
"Under the consent decree, Facebook must always be alert to potential privacy issues and try to resolve them," said David C. Vladeck, a professor at Georgetown Law and former Professor Consumer Protection Director at the FTC who oversees the investigations leading to the approval decree , "Cambridge Analytica has clarified that Facebook will not review third-party apps."
On March 26, F.T.C. He investigated the privacy practices of Facebook. A spokeswoman for the agency declined to comment last week on the progress of the investigation.
Since then, Facebook has made other concessions about privacy issues that experts claim could potentially violate the consent agreement or trigger new government charges for fraudulent privacy practices.
■ In June, the company announced A software bug exposed the posts of up to 14 million users who considered the posts private.
■ Also in June, the New York Times reported that Facebook also allowed device manufacturers like Amazon, Apple, Blackberry, Microsoft, and Samsung access to the data of friends of users without their express consent afterward said it would not pass on such information to outsiders.
■ In September, the company claimed that a security breach revealed the personal information of nearly 50 million users.
■ In October, Facebook said Russian companies were scraping user data, including "matching photos of individuals' personal social media accounts to identify them."
■ In December, Facebook stated that a software bug was gaining access granted on apps to a larger number of user photos than usual.
■ Also in December, the New York Times reported that Facebook shared user data with Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo and other companies without the users' knowledge or permission.
In addition to the FTC, Facebook is being investigated by the Justice Department, the US Bureau of Investigation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several government agencies in Europe for collecting user data through Cambridge Analytica.
What does Facebook say?
Facebook said it has developed a privacy program as required by federal regulators and has not violated the adoption of consent.
"We are transparent to people as we do so use their information and respect people's privacy settings," said Sally Aldous, a Facebook spokeswoman. "We have a privacy program that ensures we protect people's information. We continue to evolve to address the privacy risks of our products and services. "
Ms. Aldous said the company's privacy program comprised more than three dozen control mechanisms – including a data protection team and security teams who "ensure that product launches involve privacy risks, and important changes are identified, discussed and escalated for decision-making when needed."
Facebook He said that he disagreed with the Times characterization for sharing user data with Amazon, Apple, Blackberry, Microsoft, Samsung, Yahoo and other companies.
The social network indicated that device manufacturers have used information from Facebook to integrate certain Facebook features on their platforms and have agreed not to use that information for their own purposes. The company also said Spotify and other third-party apps only have access to users' Facebook data after users log in to third-party apps with their Facebook account.
"None of these partnerships or functions gave companies access to information without the permission of the people, nor did they breach our comparison with the FTC in 2012. "Wrote Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, director of developer platforms and programs at Facebook, last week in a corporate news.