Facebook has agreed to make a number of changes to the way it uses and retains personal information following an audit by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

A group called Europe Versus Facebook had made 22 complaints about the way the website retains user information.

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner carried out the audit because Facebook Ireland is responsible for all users outside the US and Canada.

The changes, which will be implemented by Facebook over the next seven months, will have implications for hundreds of millions of global Facebook users.

Facebook has agreed to reduce the amount of time it retains information deleted by the user, such as tags and friend requests.

It will have to get more consent for the use of facial recognition and there will now be more transparency and control over how personal information is used for advertising on the site.

In a statement this afternoon, Facebook said the audit "highlighted several opportunities to strengthen our existing practices".

It said it was committed to either implement, or to consider, other improvements recommended by the Commissioner.

Facebook has agreed to make these changes between now and July of next year.

The Data Protection Commissioner will then review its progress and, if required, make further recommendations.

The Commission says that because of the constantly evolving nature of the website, this report is the beginning rather than the end of their engagement with Facebook.