Occupy Privacy: UmeNow Supports 8 Counts Against Facebook by FTC

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As part of its Occupy Privacy campaign, UmeNow is following FTC rulings that protect American consumers from deceptive practices by social networks that profit by sharing the private information of users, without their consent.

We foresee a storm of class action lawsuits against the goliath social network now that the FTC has documented how the public was deceived.

The private social network UmeNow.com announced today that it fully supports the complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission that Facebook deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.

As part of its Occupy Privacy campaign, UmeNow is following FTC rulings that protect American consumers from deceptive practices by social networks that profit by sharing the private information of users, without their consent.

“We fully support the complaint filed by the FTC, but the fact remains that the information of 750 million people is now dispersed among thousands of companies and unknown individuals,” stated Evelyn Castillo-Bach, the founder of UmeNow.com, a private social network that has banned all tracking. “We have known for a long time that ads, third party apps and games are used within the giant social network to extract the private information of its users, despite the privacy settings people select. We praise the FTC 8 count complaint. But an administrative complaint by the FTC should only be a first step in the right direction. Social networks should not be allowed to profit from deceptive practices. They should be made to pay for damage done to individuals who will forever have their private information in the control of thousands of companies and individuals who have no right to that information. We foresee a storm of class action lawsuits against the goliath social network now that the FTC has documented how the public was deceived.”

Specifically, UmeNow supports the 8 counts in the complaint filed by the FTC as it appears in the case number 0923184

  •     In December 2009, Facebook changed its website so certain information that users designated as private – such as their Friends List – was made public. They didn't warn users that this change was coming, or get their approval in advance.
  •     Facebook represented that third-party apps that users' installed would have access only to user information that they needed to operate. In fact, the apps could access nearly all of users' personal data – data the apps didn't need, including data about their friends who did not use the apps.
  •     Facebook told users they could restrict sharing of data to limited audiences – for example with "Friends Only." In fact, selecting "Friends Only" did not prevent their information from being shared with third-party applications their friends used.
  •     Facebook had a "Verified Apps" program & claimed it certified the security of participating apps. It didn't.
  •     Facebook promised users that it would not share their personal information with advertisers. It did.
  •     Facebook claimed that when users deactivated or deleted their accounts, their photos and videos would be inaccessible. But Facebook allowed access to the content, even after users had deactivated or deleted their accounts.
  •     Facebook claimed that it complied with the U.S.- EU Safe Harbor Framework that governs data transfer between the U.S. and the European Union. It didn't.

According to the FTC website, “the Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has ‘reason to believe’ that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the respondent has actually violated the law. A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the respondent that the law has been violated. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.”

UmeNow.com is a private social network supported by member subscriptions. It has banned all tracking, third party apps and games. Evelyn Castillo-Bach is the founder. UmeNow.com launched in July 2011.

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Jennifer Wright
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