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A settlement deal with Federal Trade Commission leads to a significant policy change for Facebook.

As part of a new settlement deal with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Facebook will change its privacy settings so that user must opt in, or consciously agree to share informationrather than opt out, or have it shared by default. In other words, users will actively select what information gets shared.

The agreement was met by users of the 800-million-member social network with some relief and skepticism.

“This is how it should have been all along,” Paris Brightledge said in a status update about the agreement.

Facebook has long been criticized for its privacy policies, which change frequently and had required users to change settings if they wanted to control who had access to their information. Under the agreement, users will not share their information by default, and future changes to the privacy policies will be more evident to users.

The settlement, which could be announced as early as today, was first reported Thursday by the Wall Street Journal. The settlement follows a two-year investigation by the FTC that stemmed from December 2009 privacy policy changes.

Not all Facebook users were taking comfort in the settlement.

@facebook forced to seek consent for cookies,” Simon Bain tweeted. “Until they find away around it. Advertising revenues will win over privacy.”

Photo by birgerking

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