Friday, December 2, 2011

The Legality of Privacy Settings

Social networking has become an integral component of running a business these days. With websites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, companies can keep "followers" up to date with their news and advertisements and use this as a marketing tool to draw in more clients or consumers. With the ever growing popularity of Facebook and ongoing updates that CEO and president Mark Zuckerberg makes to his website, the importance of privacy for a user's information becomes more and more necessary.

Facebook has always concentrated on providing people with control over their social experience so they can express themselves freely while depending on that their personal information is being shared in the way they anticipated. However the road of privacy legally has not always gone the way they intended, with numerous accusations of dishonesty regarding their policy. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission), in an eight-count complaint, alleged that Facebook has not kept its promises.

One complaint issued by the FTC stated that Facebook claimed participating applications used a "Verified Apps" program which certified their security. Facebook then canceled Verified Apps in December of 2009 when word of this surfaced. After coming to a preliminary settlement with the FTC over what were classified as deceptive practices, Mark Zuckerberg has promised to recommit to and continuously update the Facebook privacy policy. This new policy ensures that Facebook will keep its promises about privacy to its 800+ million active users. Another precautionary measure Facebook is putting into affect is the implementation of a biennial independent audit of Facebook privacy policy practices to guarantee that its holding up to the FTC commitments.

“Today's announcement formalizes our commitment to providing you with control over your privacy and sharing -- and it also provides protection to ensure that your information is only shared in the way you intend,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post. “As the founder and CEO of Facebook, I look forward to working with the commission as we implement this agreement.” “In addition to these product changes, the FTC also recommended improvements to our internal processes,”. “We've embraced these ideas, too, by agreeing to improve and formalize the way we do privacy review as part of our ongoing product development process.”

Hopefully these new arrangements with additional privacy controls will make Facebook more appealing to those who may view the titan networking site as "creepy". This will also allow companies to be more comfortable with the content they share as well and not allowing private information to get into the wrong hands. Here at WIN Interactive we use these social networking accounts regularly, and it would be vastly counterproductive for business if we couldn't rely on these marketing tools as a means of growth and expansion in modern times.