MySpace Settles With FTC, Reminds Us They’re Still There
Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com
You remember MySpace, right? The now-forgotten social networking site where youngsters and bands once gathered together to share their love of glittery animated banners and bathroom mirror self-portraits has not only been dominated by other social media sites, it has now settled with the FTC over privacy charges.
The FTC claims MySpace had “misrepresented its protection of users’ personal information,” meaning they gave advertisers access to their user’s data without asking for permission.
As a part of the settlement, MySpace will be made to implement a new privacy accountability program which will require “independent privacy assessments” for the next 20 years.
“Advertisers could use the Friend ID to locate a user’s MySpace profile to obtain personal information publicly available on the profile and, in most instances, the user’s full name,” The FTC said in a statement Tuesday.
“Advertisers also could combine the user’s real name and other personal information with additional information to link broader web-browsing activity to a specific individual.”
Last June, MySpace was sold by News Corp to Specific-Media for a rumored $35 million, a significant loss, considering News Corp. purchased the then booming social network for $580 million in 2005. According to CNET, News Corp had hoped to use the site to drive traffic to the rest of Fox’s media sites.
Such a slip in privacy practices may seem like part of the plan when owned by News Corp.. Specific-Media tried to separate themselves from their predecessors, saying of the settlement in a statement: “Since acquiring MySpace in June 2011, we’ve set out to create a social entertainment experience around connecting, sharing and discovering content.”
“Of equal importance, we have extended this commitment to privacy protection and industry best practice to MySpace.”
MySpace isn’t the only social site to settle with the FTC.
Last November, Facebook settled with the US agency for similar claims of deceiving their customers with their privacy policies. Facebook’s punishment was similar to MySpace’s: A 20-year privacy assessment program. Before Facebook’s settlement, Google’s Buzz had a run in with the FTC, settling after complaints had arisen about “ineffective” privacy opt-out features. You may remember, Google’s Buzz built a social media out of your Gmail contacts, sharing your information with everyone from your best friend to your dentist automatically, often without the users’ knowledge.
The FTC also notes that while they issue “administrative complaints” to companies when they have reason to believe a law is being violated, these complaints are not actual findings that a company has broken the law.