Facebook has agreed to biennial audits of its privacy practices, resolving charges of exposing user details without legal authority.
The social networking site was under investigation after altering privacy controls in late 2009, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging personal information was available for global viewing.
Facebook has agreed to submit to government audits of its privacy plans every other year for the next 20 years while assuring approval from users before changing the types of content it makes public.
The charges also relate to accusations of Facebook sharing its users’ secret data with third-party advertisers between September 2008 and May 2010.
While Facebook refused to admit any wrongdoings in the settlement, the company acknowledged such leaks happened in limited periods only with CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitting ‘high-profile mistakes’ on privacy issues during the past few years.
“We are pleased that the settlement, which was announced last November, has received final approval,” says Facebook.
The agreement follows a record US$22.5m fine handed out to Google last week over privacy breaches, with terms of the deal made similar by the FTC.
With both internet companies holding huge amounts of data, such information is of value to lucrative advertisers and puts user privacy issues in the spotlight once again.
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