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

The investigation follows a series of complaints by a European group. 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 Ireland is responsible for all users outside the US and Canada. When the group Europe Versus Facebook made 22 complaints about the way the website retains user information, it fell to the Irish Office of Data Protection Commissioner to examine them.

The commissioner's audit was the most intensive ever carried out by the office. Its recommendations have implications for hundred of millions of Facebook's global users.

Facebook has agreed to reduce the amount of time it retains information deleted by the user such as tags and friends requests. It will also give people more control over tagging and posting on other websites and their addition to groups. It will have to get more consent for the use of facial recognition

There will also now be more transparency and control over how personal information is used for advertising on the site.

In a statement, Facebook said the audit highlighted several opportunities to strengthen their 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 Commissioner says that became of the constantly evolving nature of the website, this report is the beginning rather than the end of their engagement with Facebook.