Facebook and FTC Reach Privacy Settlement

Some of us can now stop complaining about Facebook’s privacy issues.

It didn’t took Mark Zuckerberg to arrange a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission too long compared to the recent NBA lockout talks. Facebook was being accused by the FTC in an eight-count complaint where Facebook has misled users regarding the security of their personal information. The social network enabled sensitive user information to be used by advertisers and software developers in order to track potential customers. However, Facebook fell short in asking permission about sharing user details without legal consent.

Mark Zuckerberg and his social network have defied odds after he created “The Facebook” in 2004 in his dorm room like issues with the Winklevoss twins and Eduardo Saverin. But the recent FTC charges humbled Zuckerberg and posted a blog post admitting that Facebook made a bunch of mistakes. “Overall, I think we have a good history of providing transparency and control over who can see your information. That said, I’m the first to admit that we’ve made a bunch of mistakes. In particular, I think that a small number of high profile mistakes, like Beacon four years ago and poor execution as we transitioned our privacy model two years ago, have often overshadowed much of the good work we’ve done.” Zuckerberg said.

In order to settle privacy complaints, Facebook has agreed to submit annual goverment audits of privacy practices for the next 20 years. Facebook now suggests a process called “opting in” before making changes to their privacy controls and sharing their information. Facebook will be fined $16,000 for every violation per FTC order. Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC, thinks Facebook is making a good move in making a commitment to privacy without compromising valuable user information. “Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its hundreds of millions of users,” Leibowitz said. “Facebook’s innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy. The FTC action will ensure it will not.”

The Facebook-FTC settlement also marks a new phase. It enables social networks to establish more firm ground rules about privacy issues in order to justify using private user info to monetize its free service through advertising. This isn’t new for social media enthusiasts because it’s apparent that a free service like Facebook or Twitter needs to monetize their service by selling user information to sell to third parties. We all know that social media usage has increased every year which has urged brands and marketers to leverage valuable and private consumer information from social media networks for their campaigns.

Google+ Officially Now on Klout

Does Google+’s inclusion in Klout’s ranking system increases the value of Google’s social network?

Klout allowed users to add their Google+ account to their dashboard a couple of weeks ago after Google’s social network released the Google+ API. Yesterday, Klout announced that Google+ is now officially part of its social influence measurement system with its Google+ scoring model.

Users who are active Google+ users will saw their Klout scores increase. Klout says its basis for measuring influence on Google+ is the rate of engagement public posts receive. Users who aren’t on Google+ or simply don’t want to include their G+ accounts to their Klout dashboard won’t be penalized, but it wouldn’t hurt to improve your Klout score by establishing a presence on Google+ and to increase visibility in social search as well.

According to Klout’s blog, they are measuring influence of Google+ users who connected their accounts to Klout. Klout also says that 62% of users are active and their engagement levels on G+ will be the basis of their scores. Arguably, the king of Google+ is MySpace founder Tom Anderson who saw his Klout score increase from 64 to 77. But what’s interesting is that ordinary users like nature photographer Tamara Pruessner is gaining some social media mileage that saw her score catapult from 11 to 67.

This only shows that users with low scores saw an increase by being active in Google’s social network, but Google+ skeptics will dismiss that G+ being part of Klout computation is not necessary yet due to the fact that it only has 40 million users in tow. Here’s a summary of Klout’s announcement:

  • Active Google+ users on Klout will see an average Score increase of 2.177.
  • Active Google+ users tend to also be active on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Google+ allows for close interactions like Facebook, while retaining the ability to share widely like Twitter.
  • Users who see a big jump in score from Google+ generate a lot of discussion and engagement with focused, high-quality content.

  • My Take

    Whether it’s Facebook or Google+ that your including in your Klout dashboard, a Klout score is a mere number to a customer. What I’ve noticed about the whole Klout issue that’s been trending for weeks now is that Klout has made social engagement a popularity contest and an ego-booster for some Internet marketers and social media strategists. It doesn’t matter if you keep or delete that Klout account of yours, an ordinary Internet user will not bother to research what Klout is. The real clout score can only be achieved on how a business can successfully integrate relevant social media platforms and make it work in synergy to generate leads. And now, with Google+ joining the Klout mix, will we finally see the value that Google+ can give to businesses?