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FTC and Facebook reach final privacy settlement, agree to 20 years of audits

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The FTC has approved a settlement with Facebook that will require more transparency and periodic checks of the social network's privacy settings for the next 20 years.

Facebook Password lock
Facebook Password lock

The FTC has approved a settlement with Facebook after charging it with misleading users about how private their information would be kept. Facebook agreed to the changes last year, and three Commissioners voted in favor of it after a period of public comment, with one dissenting and one not participating. Now, Facebook will be working to prevent what Mark Zuckerberg previously called "a small number of high profile mistakes" from happening again by agreeing to "prominently disclose" any third-party information that might be shared and requiring the user's express consent, not just general agreement with a privacy policy.

Facebook's privacy must also be assessed by a third party every two years for a total of 20 years, and the FTC reserves the right to request documentation on consumer complaints, privacy settings, and any materials used in the assessments. In return, Facebook isn't required to admit to the FTC's allegations. This is the second major FTC development in two days: yesterday, Google agreed to a $22.5 million fine over its failure to honor browser privacy settings.