Leaving Facebook

Image shows a hand with the thumb pointing down to show disapproval, and that I am leaving Facebook.

Walking the Walk, Leaving Facebook

I’m leaving Facebook because they appear incapable of complying with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act Section 5. Lots of people advise me that I’d find more clients if I was active on Facebook. That being active on Facebook would be a smart marketing move. But I have a problem. As an attorney trying to get organizations to honor their customer’s privacy rights, and see privacy as a way to build trust with their customers, how can I associate with a company who gets privacy so wrong?

My conclusion. I can’t. So, that is why I am leaving Facebook. To be clear, and maybe a little hypocritical, my decision to delete the Lexquiro PLLC Facebook account is purely a business decision. Because it is the only way to know what my nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, and grand-nephews are doing I will still look over my wife’s shoulder to peek at her account. The key point is that this is not a place where I want to do business.

In the Matter of Facebook, Inc. Civil Case 19-cv-2184

Just so you don’t think it’s me being unfair to Facebook, just look at these two instances of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) taking action against Facebook. Generally, the FTC takes such actions under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Section 5(a) makes “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce . . . are . . . declared unlawful.” This is codified at 15 U.S.C. Sec. 45(a)(1). The FTC provides this additional guidance: “Deceptive” practices are defined in the Commission’s Policy Statement on Deception as involving a material representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead a consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances.” For example, “an act or practice is ‘unfair’ if it causes or is likely to cause substantial injury to consumers which is not reasonably avoidable by consumers themselves and not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition.” 15 U.S.C. Sec. 45(n). [1]

So what did the FTC want Facebook to do as part of the original consent decree? It really wasn’t that hard. First, stop making misrepresentations. Second, obtain express consent. Third, delete information when account deleted. Fourth, establish a comprehensive privacy program. Fifth, audit such a program. And, finally, secure consumer’s information.[2]

But Facebook couldn’t manage that.

So back they are again. The fine and embarrassment of an initial consent decree had no effect.

And a record fine will have no effect either.[3] This is because their business model requires profiling users to sell ad’s to Facebook’s real customers—advertisers.

What Would Bring Me Back

I’m sure Facebook is calling a board meeting to address the fact I’m leaving Facebook. So board of directors, here is all you have to do to win me back:

First, publish a 1,500 word (max) readable and easily understandable privacy policy. 2) After the new privacy policy is posted, let users opt-in and agree to be bound by the new policy. Third, allow any person whose personal data you have, see all their data. Fourth, if any personal data is incorrect or inaccurate, correct it. Fifth, no special rules for Facebook’s executives and board members. They should have no more control over their personal data than any other person. Meanwhile, LEXQUIRO PLLC is leaving Facebook.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is legal advice. Before taking action about any matter discussed in this post you should consult an attorney.

Thumbs down image attribution: Font Awesome Free 5.2.0 by @fontawesome – [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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