Various news outlets starting with The Wall Street Journal are reporting that the Federal Trade Commission and Facebook have reached a tentative settlement on the FTC’s charge that the social media network deceived its members when it changed its privacy policies back in 2009. Facebook, which has more than 800 million members, had made large portions of its users’ profile pages public —- including photos, personal data and lists of friends — until the users “opted out” by changing their settings to hide those details.
This tentative settlement, which is awaiting final approval from the commissioners of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), would force Facebook to change its policy about privacy settings, abandoning an “opt-out” approach in favor of one where the users would have to “opt-in” to allow strangers to view personal information stored on their Facebook Profiles.
Additionally, the settlement would require Facebook to submit to independent privacy audits for 20 years. Google agreed to a similar settlement with the FTC in March, when it too backed down over concerns about its Google Buzz feature.