The US Federal Trade Commission has approved a $US 5 billion ($A7.1 billion) settlement with Facebook.

The settlement comes after regulators investigated the social media company's handling of user data, following allegations that Facebook inappropriately shared information belonging to 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal is considered a watershed moment in the public understanding of personal data.

Officials looked at whether the data sharing violated a 2011 consent agreement between Facebook and the regulator.

News of the deal pushed Facebook shares up 1.8 per cent.

The settlement is expected to include other restrictions on how Facebook treats user privacy.

If it is fully paid, the settlement would be the agency’s largest civil penalty ever.

“This fine is a fraction of Facebook's annual revenue. It won't make them think twice about their responsibility to protect user data,” said Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat and chair of a congressional antitrust panel.

Facebook's 2019 first quarter revenue was $US15.1 billion, of which $US3 billion has already been set aside for the FTC penalty.