Facebook to make all sharing privacy settings 'opt-in'

Summary:Facebook is to make its privacy settings 'opt-in' rather than opt-out, which previously caused a great deal of controversy amongst privacy groups and European governments.

Facebook is close to agreement that will settle a case with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, by allowing users to directly opt-in to its sharing privacy settings, rather than opting out.

The settlement would require the world's largest social network, with over 800 million users worldwide, to "express affirmative consent" if it makes "material retroactive changes", the Wall Street Journal reports.

The settlement dates back to an FTC investigation to December 2009, when Facebook radically changed its privacy settings. The changes, at the time, made parts of users' Facebook pages, such as profile picture and other personal information from birthdays to friends' lists public.

But the agency's commissioners have yet to approve the agreement.

This effectively means that you will not share any content you submit to the social network with anyone by default, unless you specifically choose to make something 'Public'.

Under such an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, the social network will have to submit privacy audits for the next twenty years, a similar concession that Google made when it was investigated previously by the FTC back in March.

It was earlier reported that the German data protection agency for the state of Hamburg is preparing legal action against Facebook for the use of biometric facial recognition technology of its users. German authorities could impose a fine of up to €300,000 ($420,000).

Facebook generated controversy when it rolled out facial recognition software without telling users, earlier this year.

The FTC was declined to comment, and Facebook was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Both Facebook and the FTC declined to comment.

Related:

Topics: CXO, IT Employment, Social Enterprise

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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