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Myspace settles with FTC on privacy charges

CBS/FTC, Myspace

(CBS News) Myspace has agreed to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission that the social network "misrepresented its protection of users' personal information."

The FTC alleged that Myspace revealed personal information about users to advertisers in the form of "Friend IDs." Myspace's Friend IDs corresponded with personal information like: age, gender, full name, display name, profile picture, interests and hobbies.

"The FTC wants companies to be honest with consumers and accurately inform them on how they are using their personal information," says White & Case Partner Daren Orzechowski, who focuses on information technology legal matters, including privacy. "The FTC's action against Myspace is another step towards forcing companies to be more transparent about their privacy practices."

Both Myspace and the FTC made statements regarding the social network's decision to settle.

"The settlement, part of the FTC's ongoing efforts make sure companies live up to the privacy promises they make to consumers, bars Myspace from future privacy misrepresentations, requires it to implement a comprehensive privacy program, and calls for regular, independent privacy assessments for the next 20 years," the FTC said Tuesday in a statement on their website.

Myspace's new owners, Specific Media, was quick to point out that they had only recently acquired the struggling social network in 2011.

"[O]ne of our first actions after acquiring Myspace was to thoroughly examine the company's business practices and, where applicable, make improvements. A major focus of this review was to ensure that Myspace delivered advertisements to consumers in a manner that safeguarded their privacy," Myspace said in a statement on their website.

"In order to put any questions regarding Myspace's pre-acquisition advertising practices behind us, Myspace has reached an agreement with the FTC that makes a formal commitment to our community to accurately disclose how their information is used and shared."

As part of the settlement with the FTC, Myspace has agreed to "biennial assessments of its privacy program by independent, third-party auditors for 20 years."

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