MySpace charged for violating user privacy, vows to do better

Charged by the US Federal Trade Commission with violating federal law due to having shared its users’ personal information and Web browsing habits with third parties, MySpace has agreed that from now on, it will obey its privacy policy to the letter and will institute in-depth privacy controls for its users.

According to the NYT, the advertising companies that were allowed by the social networking website to track its users’ browsing weren’t and won’t be charged.

MySpace, which was owned by News Corporation from July 2005 to June 2011, has since been in the ownership of Specific Media and pop star Justin Timberlake.

The social website instituted in 2008 a privacy policy they allegedly broke on several occasions from 2009 through late 2011, when they passed on its users’ internal identification numbers and information about their gender and age to several advertising networks that served ads on the social network.

The F.T.C. argues that that information could have been – and probably was – used to discover the users’ identities and browsing habits.

Even though these offenses were in great part effected by MySpace when it was in the hands of News Corporation, Specific Media has decided to comply with the request made by the F.T.C. regarding the future adherence to the stated privacy policy.

The company cannot be penalized by the F.T.C. for these past violations, but can be faced with a $16,000 civil fine for each future one. The commission will be able to discover them through audits which will be performed, as stipulated by the agreement, every other year for the next 20 years.