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Facebook forced to introduce 'opt in' privacy changes

FCC clamps down on Facebook over privacy

Facebook users will have to opt in to any changes to the site that can affect privacy settings, following a U.S. government clampdown on the social network, reports have claimed.

Traditionally, the company has pushed through new features, with members having to then manually adjust their security controls if they then want to opt out.

However, Facebook is reportedly close to a deal with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US, to completely reverse that policy so members are able to personally sign-up for the changes.

The FTC has alleged that Mark Zuckerberg's company deceived members during an upgrade to the site in 2009. This deal is seen as a settlement of the dispute.

A report in the Wall Street Journal says: "The proposed settlement – which is awaiting final approval from the agency commissioners – would require Facebook to obtain "express affirmative consent" if Facebook makes "material retroactive changes.""

The settlement means that Facebook will have to abandon its 'do first, don't even bother to ask questions later' policy and will now a harder time pushing new features that affect privacy settings.

Now users will have to manually opt in to see the new features, rather than going to the trouble of visiting their account settings to opt out after changes have already been made.

iTunes-style disclosure?

Facebook will likely get around this by serving-up pop-up notifications featuring pages and pages of disclaimers in the same way iTunes simply has us clicking "Accept" through sheer laziness.

The controversy began two years ago when Facebook made changes that made profile information, photos and wall posts available to the public until users opted to tighten-up security controls.