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Federal court approves $5B Facebook settlement with FTC over Cambridge Analytica

Now it's official.

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- 01:37
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A federal court officially approves the settlement Facebook reached with the Federal Trade Commission.

Angela Lang/CNET

Now, it's Facebook official. The social network said a federal court on Thursday officially approved a settlement Facebook reached with the US Federal Trade Commission last July following a lengthy investigation into the company's privacy mishaps. 

"This agreement has already brought fundamental changes to our company and advances in how we protect people's privacy beyond anything we've done before," Michel Protti, Facebook's chief privacy officer for product, said in a company blog post. "Most of all, it brings a new level of accountability and ensures that privacy is everyone's responsibility at Facebook." 

The settlement was reached last year after the the FTC looked into whether Facebook should have done more to prevent Cambridge Analytica, a now-defunct consultancy that worked on President Donald Trump's campaign, from siphoning off the data of up to 87 million users. The agency was concerned that Facebook's failure to safeguard that data violated an earlier agreement the social network made to protect user privacy

As part of the settlement, Facebook agreed to create an independent privacy committee, CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be required to certify the company's behavior and the social network must build more privacy protections into its platforms. Facebook was also fined $5 billion, a penalty the FTC called "unprecedented."

The FTC said it was pleased with the court's decision, adding that the $5 billion settlement is the largest monetary penalty obtained by the US on behalf of the FTC. 

"At the same time, the Court also highlights that the conduct relief included in this settlement will require Facebook 'to consider privacy at every stage of its operations and provide substantially more transparency and accountability for its executives' privacy-related decisions,'" said FTC Chairman Joe Simons in a statement.

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