Facebook Reaches 20-Year Privacy Settlement With U.S. Government

7:34 AM PST 11/30/2011 by Georg Szalai
Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images

"A small number of high-profile mistakes... have often overshadowed much of the good work we've done," CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post.

NEW YORK - Facebook has reached a 20-year privacy settlement with the U.S. government, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Under the agreement, the social network would be required to ask users for permission before changing the way their personal information is released. Facebook will have to go through independent privacy audits every two years for the next two decades.

The settlement was seen as a way for Facebook to appease Washington and Wall Street ahead of a planned IPO expected for next year.

STORY: Facebook Eyes $100 Billion Value in IPO by Mid-2012

The Federal Trade Commission raised privacy concerns after changes to the social network's privacy settings in Dec. 2009. The changes made some aspects of users' profiles, such as name, picture, gender and friends list - public by default.

The FTC argued that this threatened the "health and safety" of users, in part, by exposing "potentially sensitive affiliations" such as political views and sexual orientation.

"I think that a small number of high-profile mistakes... have often overshadowed much of the good work we've done," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post, according to the Journal.

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