Business

Facebook unveils new, simpler privacy settings

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Palo Alto-based Facebook Tuesday announced changes to its privacy settings. The social networking website had been facing growing criticism from Capitol Hill to Main Street.

Facebook's 400 million worldwide users will be seeing a much simpler way to select privacy settings, all because users, lawmakers, and consumer advocates complained Facebook did not seem care about privacy.

"So now you can go to your privacy page and in a couple of clicks you can set all of your information to be visible to just your friends , or your family, or friends of friends , or whoever you want to be sharing with on the service," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

To make all content private, a user will now go through 15 steps instead of 50.

Technology futurist Paul Saffo thinks Zuckerberg did not understand users' privacy concerns.

"He reminds me of knowing so much, like a young Steve Jobs, trying desperately to understand why people are upset, but at the end of the day, puzzled about what the big deal is because he knows best," Saffo said.

Zuckerberg said Facebook believes in privacy. Its new controls will also allow users to un-do choices made on sharing information.

This is a positive step, according to resident fellow Ryan Calo at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society.

"People weren't able to go back and that was a real sticking point. No matter how much you cared about it, you couldn't roll it back in some circumstances, but Facebook has addressed that with these new settings," Calo said.

Tech blogger Robert Scoble remains skeptical whether to trust Facebook.

"I think they made a big push here today; I think Zuckerberg has made a big step, but I think we need time on Facebook to really understand how can we trust this organization," Scoble said.

"Users will have a greater understanding of how their information flows through Facebook, and I think that will increase trust over time," Facebook Head of Platforms Bret Taylor said.

Facebook will start rolling out its new privacy settings immediately, although it may take up to a week for full deployment.

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palo alto, facebook, internet, business, david louie
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