Facebook is settling with the FTC over charges it deceived consumers with its privacy settings to get people to share more personal information than they originally agreed to. The charges go back to at least 2009, when Facebook changed its privacy settings so that information users may have deemed private, such as their list of friends, suddenly became viewable to everyone. "They didn't warn users that this change was coming, or get their approval in advance," the FTC said.
The settlement requires Facebook to get people's approval before changing how it shares their data. In a blog post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company has made a "bunch of mistakes," but he added that this has often overshadowed the good work Facebook has done. The settlement is similar to one Google agreed to earlier this year over its Buzz social networking service. Like Google, Facebook has agreed to obtain assessments of its privacy practices by independent auditors for the next 20 years. Facebook isn't paying anything to settle the case, though future violations could lead to civil fines.