Facebook's Privacy Makeover: Are You Mollified?

By  |  Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 1:11 pm

For years, Facebook has had a pretty consistent modus operandi: It breaks stuff, catches flack for it, and then–eventually–backpedals or otherwise responds to the criticism. The tradition continues with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s new blog post. After a few weeks of intense unhappiness over the company’s recent new features and related changes to privacy policies, it’s redoing its privacy settings in a major way.

Zuckerberg says that the new features will take a few weeks to reach every Facebook user. I don’t see them yet. But here’s a recap of what he says is new:

  • Rather than having to wade through gazillions of granular settings, it’ll be easy to tell Facebook you want anything you post to be visible to friends only, friends of friends, or everybody. These rules will apply to future Facebook functionality that doesn’t exist yet.
  • You’ll be able to make your Friends and Pages lists completely private.
  • It’ll be easier to block apps on Facebook from getting at your information.
  • It’ll be easier to block external sites such as Pandora which use Facebook’s new “Instant Personalization” from getting at your information. (Currently there’s no single place to go to do this, nor any way to block all sites with one click.)
  • If users find these changes satisfactory, Facebook intends to avoid major changes to privacy policies “for a long time.”

It’s a given that these tweaks won’t satisfy every unhappy camper. For example, it sounds like Facebook will still share your info via Instant Personalization by default; if this bothers you, you’ve got to proactively tell it to knock it off. Some people, like my colleague Jacqueline Emigh, would be more pleased if Facebook renounced Zuckerberg’s recent proclamation that “the default is social” and made every new form of sharing opt-in rather than opt-out.

Overall, though, the changes look like a significant step in the right direction. If you were rattled by the previous round of changes–as 75 percent of Technologizer readers who took our recent poll said they were–do the ones outlined in Zuck’s new post calm you down?

 
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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Randy Peterman Says:

    What they need to do is put the new settings at the top of your home page when you’ve completed logging in. Here’s the settings page in your reading stream (click to change or cancel to go with default). Don’t hide it, be open about it, and make it easy to understand.

  2. Eli the Computer Guy Says:

    I think people are missing a massive point. Facebook has to make money and it does so by using your personal information for target marketing. No one wants to pay for Facebook, and no one wants Facebook to share their data… so… how exactly do people think Facebook plans to stay in business. Does it really matter if Facebook shares your friends list? All businesses are trying to do is figure out a better way to market Pop Tarts they don’t really care about you much more then whether or not you’ll buy their widget. The privacy thing is over blown and sadly I agree with Zucherburger that b y not making sharing the default it will do more harm then good.

  3. MacSmiley Says:

    Zucherburger?

  4. Rich Says:

    Just yesterday I posted something on my wall about a well-known media personality. In seconds, that post was copied by Facebook (which is obviously scanning for related keywords) and published it on this person’s Fan page. Again, there should be clear warnings to Facebook users that ANYTHING they post on their wall can be used for other purposes by the social media site. What’s troubling is that Facebook continues to mislead its users with deceptive and often non-existent privacy policies.

  5. NAT Says:

    HA HA HA HAAAA HHHAAAAAA !

    Everyone misse steh point !!! FACEBOOK is … YES DO EVIL !!! YES DO EVIL … do YES evil!!!! in contrast to Google.

    They stall and wiglle their PR this way and that way so that they carry on SQUEEZING all the evil Data Base Material they can gather from 500,000,000 PEOPLE!!! FIVE HUNDRED MILLION – HALF A BILLION PEOPLE – make enough money -before they hit a BP type catstrophe they have to pay for!!!

    Go Baby GO!!! WHAT PRIVACY??? It is EAZY CAMA DEASY – ripest Crime Info Base!!!!!

  6. NAT Says:

    OK !!!

    The way to skin this one is to HAVE A NO SAHRING as the DEFAULT and then the FIRST PAGE should clearly LIST ALL THINGS (Item by item – unless a items are dumped into a bin for others to be able to see) Then you can make THAT BIN only available for sharing !) AND SHOW THAT OTHERS ARE SEEING AND WHO IS SEEING AT ANY TIME AND WHO CAN SEE IT — MOST IMPORTANT!

  7. Raven Says:

    Since when has Facebook responded to criticism and intense dislike? I don't recall them ever reverting the site to the way it was in 2007!

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