Facebook Close to Settling Privacy Complaint

Users claim the site misused personal information

Facebook, which has faced criticism for its stance on user privacy, is close to a settlement with the U.S. government over allegations that it misled users by making their personal information public without properly alerting them to the changes, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This particular privacy debacle began in December 2009, when the social network made features of its users’ profiles (including their name, picture, and friends) viewable to the public by default. Many of the site’s users complained about the changes, while a number of privacy advocates filed a complaint with the FTC.

Now, sources told the WSJ that Facebook has agreed to an agreement that would force the site to get users’ permission before sharing their information in different ways than what the users had originally agreed to. Facebook would also be required to submit to independent privacy audits for the next 20 years, sources said.

However, under terms of the deal, Facebook only has to get consent before making content already on the site more widely available—it doesn’t require users to agree to all new changes to the social network.

The deal is now awaiting final approval from the FTC, which will likely vote on the matter in the next few weeks, according to the WSJ.