FTC Report Found that Facebook Misled Developers and Users with ‘Verified Apps’ Program

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) aired a lot of dirty laundry this week when they reached a settlement with Facebook forcing them to submit to privacy audits. One of the facts that emerged from their investigation was that, from May 2009 to December 2009, Facebook repeatedly deceived app developers through their “verified apps” program.

Under this program, Facebook offered to check out and verify the security of third-party apps on its site (for a healthy fee, of course) and then put a green check mark next to the verified app. Users would then feel more free to download these apps and use them knowing that they had passed through a thorough, Facebook-led review process. Turns out, this wasn’t true at all. Here is what the FTC had to say in their report:

“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… In many instances Facebook has permitted a Platform Application to display its Verified Apps badge when its review of the application’s security has not exceeded its review of other Platform Applications. Therefore, the representation set forth [..] constitutes a false or misleading representation. ”

In other words, Facebook took developers’ money and then did nothing to verify the validity of apps. According to the settlement Facebook reached with the FTC as a result of these findings, the company must now submit to privacy audits every two years for the next 20 years to prevent such “ethical lapses” from occurring.

We are constantly warning our readers about the dangers of rogue applications that are prolific on the Facebook platform. Facebook does not take the ‘Walled Garden’ approach that Apple has implemented on its App Store. Don’t falsely assume that just because it’s on Facebook it must be legitimate. Only install third party Facebook applications from trusted, well-known developers.

Recommended Resources

BitDefender Safego is a Facebook application you can install that will scan your News Feed and help keep you safe from scams on Facebook.

PRIVATE WiFi® is a Personal VPN that encrypts everything you send and receive. Don’t access Facebook from a public WiFi hotspot without it.

Do Not Track + is a FREE browser plugin created by Abine. This easy to install plugin keeps websites from tracking you. If you value your online privacy, then you should definitely take advantage of this free product.

Action Alert | Free Parental Control offers a 100% free Internet safety solution designed for parents. There is also a Maximum Protection option for parents that need a more advanced set of tools.

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