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Computer KeyFacebook is close to settling a charge with the Federal Trade Commission first introduced two years ago regarding the social network’s privacy practices.

The settlement will force Facebook to stop changing its users’ privacy preferences without gaining “express affirmative consent,” according to the Wall Street Journal. For example, Facebook cannot suddenly say your status updates will be public.

The company would also have to be audited for privacy by an independent firm for the next 20 years, an agreement similar to Google’s case with the FTC back in march.

This change is an important one for many, whose photos or private information are currently in Facebook’s hands. Recently, in order to handle privacy more openly, the company introduced privacy buttons to many aspects of the website. Now users can choose who they would like to share a certain status update or photo with, putting a little more control into users’ hands. There is always a concern, however, that a sweep of privacy changes could result in a wiping of your settings, which sometimes take a lot of time to set up.

The original charge stemmed from a 2009 complaint when the company made a number of profile features, such as name and friends list, public, forcing users to reprogram their original preferences.

[Computer key photo via Shutterstock]

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