Myspace and the Federal Trade Commission have agreed a settlement on charges that the social network company misused user information and misrepresented its privacy practices. In part, the agreement calls for Myspace to implement a privacy program and to undergo independent privacy assessments for the next two decades – nearly twice as long as the company has been in existence.
Basically, Myspace promised it would not share this personally identifiable information without the user’s explicit permission. But according to the FTC, it did. The agency determined that advertisers, who were supposed to only get anonymized data for targeting, often had access to most of what was on a user’s personal profile. This also gave advertisers and other third parties the ability to link other browsing and similar activities to a specific individual person by name.
At issue are each user’s unique identifier, called a “Friend ID” in Myspace’s lexicon, which follows the user everywhere and provides easy access to personal profile information including his or her age, gender, display name and full name, along with the optional information many users include like friends lists, profile photo, hobbies and interests.
Myspace is currently owned by online advertising company Specific Media and Justin Timberlake, who purchased it from News Corp. for $35 million. News Corp. retains a minority stake, which can’t be much consolation for the conglomerate that paid $580 million for Myspace in 2005.
Federal Trade Commission – press statement
Myspace – official site
Specific Media – official site
Los Angeles Times – Myspace to settle FTC charges that it misled millions of users
Politico – Myspace agrees to FTC privacy settlement