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Facebook targets scammers, settles FTC privacy dispute

Facebook has finally settled its argument with regulatory body, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), over what was described as, “unfair and deceptive” changes to its privacy policy in 2009. While it was initially thought that the social network might be fined for its actions – in a similar fashion to how Google was recently – in the end it was settled that instead, Facebook would consent to regular investigations from the FTC over the next 20 years.

Quite the serious commitment from both parties. Whether this ruling will assuage concerns that the public has over their privacy on the social network, remains to be seen.

As well as making deceptive privacy policy changes, the FTC said (via the Guardian) that it considered Facebook liable for selling on confidential user data to advertisers without their consent, including their location, marital situation and status updates.

KitGuru Says: Facebook’s biggest public gaff – apart from its falling share price – has been its privacy issues. This FTC settlement should help keep it on the straight and narrow, but winning back alienated users is a far more difficult matter altogether.

However this isn’t the only reason Facebook is making headlines today. While it was agreeing to the FTC’s yearly investigations, it was also asking its userbase to help combat spammers and phisherman. While email phishing attempts from Nigerians and the like are well known about enough that people rarely fall for it anymore, social network scams are often far more effective. Usually the messages suggesting a link are from a person’s friends list, so it seems legitimate.

Facebook Phishing
Nobody falls for email phishing anymore, but on Facebook there's still a few guppies

While Facebook already has some automated procedures in place to prevent such things from happening, some invariably slip through the cracks, so now the social network is asking users to help. If a member of the site suspects they have been targeted by a phishing scam, Facebook wants them to email all the relevant details to [email protected]

Users have been able to contact Facebook with complaints or claims of phishing in the past, but this is the first time the site has provided a direct and dedicated address for these sorts of messages.

KitGuru Says: Always nice to see improved attempts to combat phishing, but really the best method is personal care. Don’t click on random links your friends suggest.

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