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Thursday, July 02, 2009
Facebook to Simplify Privacy Settings

Facebook plans to simplify the way in which it offers privacy options to give users more control over the information they share, allowing them to balance their desire to control access to information with their desire to connect.

In a blog post on Wednesday, chief privacy officer Chris Kelly said Facebook is in the process of streamlining its privacy settings over the next few weeks.

Starting from today, all Facebook settings are put on the same page. Facebook will also standardize the options they provide for each setting so the choices are always the same. Lastly, Facebook will remove overlapping settings to reduce confusion and combine profile fields that are similar.

In order to give people greater control over the information they share and the audiences with whom they share it, Facebook has already added an "Everyone" option to give people more control and enable them to share more broadly if they want, something that wasn't possible on Facebook before.

On the other hand, Facebook wants to give people the power to limit who should receive any particular piece of information they want to share. The Publisher Privacy Control, which was launched in a beta last week, allows users to decide who can see the content they publish on a per-post basis. For example, you may want to make some posts available to everyone, while restricting others to your friends and family. You should be able to make that decision every time you share something on Facebook, and soon you'll be able to do this.

Just a few weeks ago, Facebook has also started the process of phasing out regional networks, since they did not adequately reflect a world where people choose exactly the audience with whom they wish to share. Regional networks made sense for those who wanted to be more open when Facebook was small, but they lost their utility as the site became global.

"Now, if you want to share with a smaller, more targeted group, you have a number of options, including specific Friend Lists, all of your friends, your friends and people in your school or work networks, and friends of friends. To share with more people and contribute to the general conversation going on in the world, you can select "Everyone," Kelly said.

In the next few days, Facebook will begin to explore how to make the transition to the new settings. In the process, the company will be asking users to revisit and reaffirm the way they present themselves on Facebook. To do this, we will be offering a Transition Tool that asks users to select their own level of sharing.

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