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Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Facebook Enhances Privacy Features

Facebook is tweaking the privacy settings on its popular online hangout to let users exert greater control over which of their friends are allowed to see personal details they post.

The company said it would add features Tuesday night that will give its 67 million active users the option of selecting individual users who can or can't access certain parts of their pages.

For example, someone who uploads a racy batch of photos or lists his cell phone number or personal e-mail address on his Facebook page can now bar some people on list of friends from seeing any of that information.

Previously, the only ways to block people from seeing specific content was to deny their friend requests outright or to create a limited profile. The second solution had the downside of blocking entire groups of people from a wide swath of content.

Facebook announced the new features Tuesday as it tries to combat criticism that it doesn't give users enough control over what posted information their friends see.

The company also is stepping up efforts to portray itself as privacy-conscious after many users rebelled over a marketing tool called "Beacon" that tracked purchases Facebook members made on other Web sites and sent alerts to their Facebook friends about the transactions.

Facebook now allows users to turn off Beacon advertising platform. The new privacy features announced Tuesday don't extend to Beacon, however, so users who opt into that program still can't specify which friends receive Beacon alerts.

Facebook also demonstrated a new instant messaging function Tuesday that lets Facebook friends chat with one another and is scheduled to launch in coming weeks.

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