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May 9, 2012

FTC slaps MySpace with 20 years of audits for privacy violations

The Federal Trade Commission claims Myspace did not keep its promise that it would not share personal user information without permission first.

By Tineka Smith

Myspace

MySpace settled a privacy investigation with the FTC agreeing to audits over the next 20 years, joining the ranks of Facebook and Google who were previously hit with mandatory privacy audits by the FTC for 20 years.

According to the FTC, The social networking site provided advertisers with the ‘Friend ID’ of MySpace users. The Friend ID uniquely identifies each user’s profile page on MySpace. This allowed advertisers to locate a person’s MySpace profile in order to obtain personal information including a users’ full name. Advertisers then had the "capability to track users’ viewing habits across different websites using tracking cookies," according to the FTC.

The FTC said that MySpace directly misrepresented its privacy policy.

"The MySpace privacy policy promised it would not share personal identifiable information without giving notice and gaining permission from users."

The privacy policy also stated that information used on the site would not individually identify users to third parties, which the FTC says MySpace violated in providing user Friend ID’s to advertisers.

In the settlement, MySpace has been ordered to not misrepresent its privacy policies along with implementing a comprehensive privacy program in order to protect consumers’ information.

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MySpace was bought at the height of its success by NewsCorp for $580m in 2005 but after the launch of Facebook the site has seen its numbers steadily decline. The site was bought in 2011 by Justin Timberlake and Specific Media for $35m, despite News Corp orginally seeking $100m for the site.

MySpace currently has 30 million users and has re-established itself as a music centred social website.

Please follow this author on Twitter @Tineka_S or comment below.

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