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Facebook admits to making mistakes with privacy

Zuckerberg's comments follow settlement with FTC

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has admitted the social network has made mistakes when it comes to privacy as it reached a settlement with the US Federal Trades Commission (FTC).

"I'm the first to admit that we've made a bunch of mistakes," said founder Mark Zuckerberg in a blog.

"In particular, I think that a small number of high profile mistakes, like Beacon four years ago and poor execution as we transitioned our privacy model two years ago, have often overshadowed much of the good work we've done."

Following an investigation, the FTC said Facebook "deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public".

The regulator detailed eight-different complaints against the social network including changes to the site in December 2009 that meant content such as Friend lists, which has been listed as private, was automatically made public. The FTC said Facebook had failed to warn users in advance of the change or get their approval.

Under the terms of the settlement Facebook is banned from "making any further deceptive privacy claims" and the site must get approval from members "before it changes the way it shares their data". Furthermore, it must prevent anyone from accessing content from a former member more than 30 days after the account has been deleted and have a privacy audit every two years over the next 20 years by an independent third-party to ensure the terms of the settlement are being sufficiently met.

Zuckberg said he "founded Facebook on the idea that people want to share and connect with people in their lives, but to do this everyone needs complete control over who they share with at all times".

"Today, the FTC announced a similar agreement with Facebook. These agreements create a framework for how companies should approach privacy in the United States and around the world," he said.

"For Facebook, this means we're making a clear and formal long-term commitment to do the things we've always tried to do and planned to keep doing - giving you tools to control who can see your information and then making sure only those people you intend can see it."

Zuckerberg said Facebook has embraced the terms of the FTC settlement and furthermore, the social network has employed a chief privacy officer for both policy and products to ensure the commitment to the settlement is reflected internally.

"These two positions will further strengthen the processes that ensure that privacy control is built into our products and policies. I'm proud to have two such strong individuals with so much privacy expertise serving in these roles," he said.

"I'm committed to making Facebook the leader in transparency and control around privacy."


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