Facebook to pay $9 million to settle Competition Bureau’s concerns over privacy claims

The investigation found that Facebook made false or misleading claims about privacy

Facebook has been ordered to pay a $9 million CAD penalty after the Competition Bureau has found that the company made misleading claims about privacy.

The bureau has concluded that the social media giant made false claims about the privacy of Canadians’ personal information on Facebook and Messenger. The company will also pay an additional $500,000 for the costs of the bureau’s investigation.

The investigation found that Facebook indicated that users could control who could see and access their personal information. However, Facebook did not limit the sharing of users’ personal information with some third-party developers in a way that follows its privacy claims.

Some of the personal information that was shared with third-party developers includes content that users posted on the platform and the messages they exchanged on Messenger.

Facebook also allowed some third-party developers access to personal information of users’ friends after they installed certain third-party applications.

“While Facebook made claims that it would no longer allow such access to the personal information of users’ friends after April 30, 2015, the practice continued until 2018 with some third-party developers,” the bureau stated in a press release.

The Competition Act doesn’t allow companies to make false or misleading claims about their services, including promises regarding privacy and security. The bureau states that companies must ensure that their claims are accurate.

“The Competition Bureau will not hesitate to crack down on any business that makes false or misleading claims to Canadians about how they use personal data, whether they are multinational corporations like Facebook or smaller companies,” said Matthew Boswell, the commissioner of competition, in the press release.

He stated that Canadians expect and deserve truth from businesses in the digital economy.

Update 19/05/20 12:10pm: A spokesperson from Facebook has provided MobileSyrup with the following comment: “Although we do not agree with the Commissioner’s conclusions, we are resolving this matter by entering into a consent agreement and not contesting the conclusions for the purposes of this agreement. We look forward to continuing our productive relationship with the Commissioner and the Competition Bureau. We will build on the improvements we’ve made in protecting people’s information and how we communicate about the privacy controls Canadians can use.”