The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concluded a settlement with Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) involving charges that Facebook lied to users when it told them it would keep personal information private and then “repeatedly” allowed public access to the supposedly private data. The announced settlement does not include any fine.
Yesterday the FTC settled a similar case with Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) but that one cost Google $22.5 million. The difference is that Google had already agreed to stop passing around customer data and then went ahead and did it anyway. Following the Google precedent, if Facebook should fail to comply with today’s announced agreement, “Facebook will be liable for a broad range of deceptive conduct.” And that liability will very likely come with a price tag attached to it.
Of course in the great scheme of things, a fine of $22.5 million to either Google or Facebook is relative peanuts. But getting crosswise with the FTC can make a company’s life more difficult and expensive, to say nothing of the dings to a firm’s public image.
Facebook’s shares are up about 2.% today at $21.56 in a post-IPO range of $19.82-$45.00.
The FTC’s press release is available here.