Facebook Announces New Privacy Settings.... Again
New one-click options for Facebook were announced by founder Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday in order to aid subscribers' control of their privacy protection. The options are in response to a flood of complaints from users who felt it had become nearly impossible to figure out and control the various levels of protection.
New one-click options for Facebook were announced by the social networking site's founder on Wednesday in order to aid subscribers' privacy protection. The options are in response to a flood of complaints from users who felt it had become nearly impossible to figure out and control the various levels of protection.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive of Facebook, spoke at a news conference recently and credited the recent mistakes to growing pains. The site has expanded from tens of thousands users to hundreds of millions in a relatively short time. He acknowledged that "It's been a big shift along the way, and it hasn't always been smooth." According to the Washington Post, he said that engineers and designers had holed up in the company's Palo Alto offices to work on revised privacy settings for the past three weeks.
"We don't pretend that we are perfect," Zuckerberg said in an interview. "We try to build new things, hear feedback and respond with changes to that feedback all the time."
The updated options, set to be introduced over the next few weeks, will include a one-click setting to block any third-party websites from accessing the jackpot of information Facebook has on a user. Another option allows for users to stop applications from getting user information unless specifically told otherwise. Also, in reversing a feature released in December that just about everyone found very confusing, users will have simplified options for who is allowed to see their information.
Rather than having to customize each individual update and photo to be visible to "friends," "friends of friends," "friends and networks" or "everyone," users can place their information - such as employment history or vacation videos - into "buckets" designated for those same categories of privacy levels, according to Washington Post Chairman Donald E. Graham. Graham is also on Facebook's board.
Facebook is not the only internet giant facing growing scrutiny from U.S. and European regulators in regards to privacy practices. The European Union told Google, Microsoft and Yahoo that their search engines were not in compliance with European privacy laws, and ordered the companies to provide proof user information is anonymous.
"There is certainly more awareness of Internet privacy, and a lot of that is also the recognition that technology is way, way ahead of regulation," said Miriam Wugmeister, a partner at the law firm Morrison & Foerster who specializes in privacy.
Criticism of Facebook started in December when new tools caught users off guard and confused them, causing information to be available to other websites, as well as anyone searching the internet. "Instant personalization," a program added last month, shared not only user information, but also their preferences and those of their friends, with outside sites. Thousands of users joined groups and sites pledging to quit Facebook, and complaints were filed to regulators by privacy groups.
"If you find these changes helpful, then we plan to keep this privacy framework for a long time," Zuckerberg said. "That means you won't need to worry about changes. (Believe me, we're probably happier about this than you are.)"
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized Facebook earlier this month for the social network sharing information with third-parties, and called for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. He called Wednesday's announcement about the new changes a good first step, noting "The effectiveness of the proposal will be judged by how prominently displayed and easily accessed the opt-out option is for the user."