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Facebook updates user-rights and data-use policies after $20m lawsuit

Facebook has proposed another set of changes to its data-use and user-rights policies, following the settlement of a two-year legal battle over the social network's use of members' data in advertising.

Earlier this week, a US judge granted final approval of Facebook's $20 million (£13 million) Sponsored Stories settlement, earning each of the 150 million plaintiffs $15 (£10) in compensation.

As part of the settlement, Facebook is required to revise its governing documents, chief privacy officer Erin Egan said in a blog post.

Most notably, the company wants to turn users' profile pictures into an identification tool for friends to tag you in photos.

"We are able to suggest that your friend tag you in a picture by scanning and comparing your friends' pictures to information we've put together from your profile pictures and the other photos in which you've been tagged," the new language says.

As Egan told AllThingsD, "it's actually a good thing to be tagged in more photos, because that's how you'll know they exist on Facebook. Then from there, you can take the photos down or, if you need to, report them."

Facebook's facial-recognition tool - which scans uploaded images to suggest tagging - was a controversial addition to the site in 2010. But it largely came under fire from regulators in Europe, where it was suspended in September 2012.

The rest of Facebook's proposal focuses on simply clarifying key points, including the network's explanation of how details like users' names, profile pictures, and posted content may be used in connection with ads, "to make it clear that you are granting Facebook permission for this use when you use our services," Egan said.

According to the proposal, Facebook members basically sign away their name and/or profile picture to the website, which can use those details without compensation. Those who are under 18 must have the approval of at least one parent or legal guardian.

Egan also outlined updates to the Data User Policy, including a newly simplified explanation for how Facebook receives information and what sort of data is collected — IP addresses, mobile phone numbers — when users log onto the social network.

The company also wants everyone to know that it does not handle third-party application requests for data deletion, nor is it responsible for carrier data charges when using the site or its accompanying apps on a mobile device.

Users can find a section-by-section breakdown of Facebook's updates online. Details are also available in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Turkish, Chinese, and Portuguese. If you have any feedback, the social network is accepting comments via the Facebook blog's comments section fora limitedf time.

This week's final ruling ends a lawsuit dating back to 2011, when Facebook was sued over Sponsored Stories, which turned users' Likes into ads on their newsfeed. Plaintiffs accused the social network of improperly using names, photographs, likenesses, and identities of users "to generate substantial profits for Facebook."

A company spokeswoman said that the social network is happy with the decision, adding in a statement that "We are pleased that the settlement has received final approval."