Consumer Confidential: Citi profit up, Facebook privacy down, airlines cut first class
Here's your mordantly Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:
-- Banking giant Citigroup earned nearly $2.2 billion in profit during the first three months of the year. That is, as they say in economic circles, a big chunk o' change. Pretty impressive for a company that just two years ago required $45 billion in taxpayer funds to bail it out of troubles largely of its own making. And now Citi and other banks are fighting tighter regulation and oversight by the feds. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remains high and millions of families are in need. Is it just me, or are the only ones who have weathered the recession storm the big banks? And weren't they the ones who got us into this mess in the first place?
-- Heads up: Some of the most popular Facebook apps have been routinely sharing users' personal info with marketers. The Wall Street Journal says the apps, including the game FarmVille, have made users' identities known even when the user has set privacy controls to keep such information under wraps. In response, Facebook has issued a warning to app developers that such behavior is a no-no and that they don't want to see it happen again. And if that's not a slap on the wrist, I don't know what is.
-- This will probably break your heart, but a growing number of airlines are eliminating or shrinking first-class cabins because, well, it turns out a lot of people can no longer afford $15,000 seats. High-end traffic on international flights -- which includes business and first class -- fell 16% in 2009, according to the International Air Transport Assn. AirTran, United and Qantas are among carriers cutting or reducing first-class seating. On the other hand, that will mean more room for overpriced business-class seats, not to mention "economy" seats where you get to pay extra for everything from pillows to leg room.
-- David Lazarus