Facebook nears FTC agreement on privacy

11 Nov 2011

Facebook is close to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that would require users’ consent before the social network shares data differently to what the user originally agreed to.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook would need to get users’ approval before making “material retroactive changes” to its privacy policies.

This means that Facebook could not make information already on the site more widely available than the user initially agreed to.

Facebook could also have to submit independent privacy audits for 20 years under the terms of the agreement.

The settlement would not apply to how Facebook gets user consent for new features and it would not require users to agree to all changes made on the site.

Facebook has received criticism from users and privacy experts in the past on how they handle its privacy policies, which serves the now 800m users on its site.

This case in particular follows privacy policy changes Facebook made in December 2009, where personal details of users’ profiles were made public by default. The Electronic Privacy Information Centre filed the complaint to the FTC.

Facebook has since worked to try and make its privacy policy simpler to understand and easier to control.