Facebook appoints public policy director

Facebook has appointed Simon Milner as its first public policy director for the UK and Ireland as the social network looks to portray itself at the forefront of dealing with online safety and privacy issues.

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Milner joins Facebook from BT, where as director of group industry policy he led the company’s interactions with the government over the Digital Economy Act and on issues such as copyright protection and child internet safety. He will report into Richard Allan, Facebook’s director of policy for the EMEA region.

His appointment comes in the same week that Facebook settled a privacy case with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after the social network admitted it had made a “bunch of mistakes” concerning intellectual property.

The website will now be forced to obtain consent from its users ahead of making privacy changes and will need to close deleted accounts in 30 days or less.

The company will also have to undergo an audit of its privacy policies every two years for the next 20 years to ensure it complies with the FTC’s demands.

Facebook has previously been criticised by users and commentators for making a series of changes affecting the privacy of personal data – such as sharing some personal information with advertisers and making previously private data public – without any forewarning.

The FTC said in this week’s court ruling that Facebook had made claims about its privacy settings that were “unfair”, “deceptive” and “violated federal law”. The regulator says the proposed settlement will ensure any future innovation at Facebook will not come “at the expense of consumer privacy”.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, said in a blog post that the company had previously made a “small number of high profile mistakes”.

Of the FTC settlement he added: “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.”

Facebook is currently tabling a $10bn (£6.4bn) IPO that would value each of its 800 million users at $125 (£80), according to reports.

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