MySpace Misled Users on Data-Sharing with Advertisers: FTC

MySpace.com – once the dominant social networking site before Facebook’s rapid dominance – misled millions of users by sharing their personal information with advertisers, while misrepresenting consumer protections, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
A settlement reached with the FTC bars MySpace from future privacy misrepresentations, requires the site to implement a privacy program, and calls for “regular, independent” privacy assessments for the next 20 years.
MySpace assigns a persistent unique identifier, called a “Friend ID,” to each profile created on its website.
A user’s profile publicly discloses his or her age, gender, profile picture (if the user chooses to include one), display name, and, by default, the user’s full name. User profiles also may contain additional items, such as pictures, hobbies, interests, and lists of users’ friends.
MySpace’s privacy policy said it would not share users’ personal information without first giving notice to users and receiving their permission to do so.
Despite the promises contained in its privacy policy, the FTC charged that MySpace provided advertisers with the “Friend ID” of users who were viewing particular pages on the site.
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.

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