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article imageFacebook catches FTC flak over 'misleading' app vetting

By Leigh Goessl     Aug 14, 2012 in Internet
Last Friday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced its privacy settlement with Facebook was finalized. Now details are surfacing about the company's 2009-era verified apps program that was subsequently ditched.
According to The Guardian, the FTC accused Facebook of deceiving developers and charging them for verifying apps and awarding a badge to show consumers the apps were vetted by the social network.
Guardian writes, "Developers paid Facebook $375, or $175 for a student or non-profit organisation, to be given the green tick [approval]. Verified apps were given other benefits including prominence in its search results and a higher ranking on the directory of apps."
However, this allegedly never happened, and the FTC said Facebook was deceptive in its actions as Facebook took no steps to actually verify the apps the third parties paid them to do. In its 19-page complaint [PDF] that outlines several violations, the agency has Facebook's verified apps program listed as Count #6.
The agency said Facebook charged the app developers, but did not do any extra vetting than it would have for any app.
"Facebook took no steps to verify either the security of a verified application's website or the security the application provided for the user information it collected, beyond such steps as it may have taken regarding any other Platform Application," the FTC wrote.
The now-defunct verified app program only lasted about six months back in 2009 awarding 254 apps a "verified" badge, reported ZDNet. Purportedly, Facebook made up to $95,000 on this program when it was active.
Basically, consumers using apps during this time were possibly "lulled into a false sense of security", said ZDNet.
In accordance with its recent terms of settlement, All Facebook reported the social network giant doesn't have to pony up any money for fines, but must submit to a privacy audit for the next 20 years, along with several other stipulations.
More about Facebook, Federal trade commission, ftc settlement, FTC, app vetting
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