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FTC, Myspace reach proposed settlement in personal information-sharing suit


WASHINGTON—The Federal Trade Commission has reached a proposed settlement with Myspace L.L.C. concerning allegations that it gave users' personal information to advertisers, the FTC said Tuesday.

No mention of a fine or penalty is made in the proposed settlement.

In a statement, the FTC said the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based social media firm provided advertisers with the “Friend ID” of users who viewed particular pages on the site.

Advertisers could use the information to locate a user's Myspace profile, obtain personal information publicly available in the profile and, in most instances, the user's full name, according to the FTC.

Advertisers also could combine the user's real name and other personal information with additional information to link broader Web-browsing activity to a specific individual.

The FTC said social networking site's privacy policy promised it would not share users' personally identifiable information and that the deceptive statements in its policy violated federal law.

Among its provisions, the proposed settlement would bar Myspace from misrepresenting the extent to which it protects the privacy of users' personal information, and require that it establish a comprehensive privacy program designed to protect consumers' information. It also calls for biennial assessments of its privacy program by independent third-party auditors for 20 years.

The proposed consent order, which will be published in the Federal Register, will be subject to public comment through June 8, after which the FTC will vote whether to make it final.

Irvine, Calif.-based Specific Media L.L.C., which acquired Myspace from New York-based News Corp. last year, said in a statement that it has conducted a review of the company's business practices and “successfully improved upon Myspace's historical practices, bringing the social media platform to the forefront of industry best practice for ad delivery.”

“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,” Specific Media said in the statement.

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