The Federal Trade Commission this week approved a final order settling charges that Snapchat deceived consumers with promises about the disappearing nature of messages sent through the service.
The FTC’s complaint, which was first announced in May 2014, further alleged that Snapchat deceived consumers over the amount of personal data it collected and the security measures taken to protect that data from misuse and unauthorized disclosure. “In fact, Snapchat’s failure to secure its Find Friends feature resulted in a security breach that enabled attackers to compile a database of 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers,” the FTC alleged.
According to the FTC’s complaint, approved Dec. 31, 2014, Snapchat made multiple misrepresentations to consumers about its product that stood in stark contrast to how the app actually worked.
“If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keep those promises,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez warned in a statement announcing the complaint. “Any company that makes misrepresentations to consumers about its privacy and security practices risks FTC action.”
The settlement with Snapchat is part of the FTC’s ongoing effort to ensure that companies market their apps truthfully and keep their privacy promises to consumers. It prohibits Snapchat from misrepresenting the extent to which it maintains the privacy, security, or confidentiality of users’ information. In addition, the company will be required to implement a comprehensive privacy program that will be monitored by an independent privacy professional for the next 20 years.
The FTC’s vote approving the final order was 5-0.