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Facebook Improves Privacy Controls

David Murphy

Facebook is inviting its 350 million-plus users to review and update their privacy settings. The social network is also launching easy-to-use tools to give users personalised and greater control over the information they share, based on what the content is, why they are sharing it, when, and the audience they are trying to reach.
The tools include a simpler privacy settings page and a tool to control the audience for each post users create. Facebook says it accepts that as the site has evolved and new features have been added, its privacy settings have become increasingly complicated, creating a need for a simplified privacy settings page. 
Facebook is transforming the worlds ability to control its information online by empowering more than 350 million people to personalize the audience for each piece of content they share, says Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Communications, Public Policy and Marketing. Weve always designed Facebook to enable people to control what information they share with whom - its the reason our service continues to attract such a broad and diverse group of users from around the world. Were proud of the latest evolution were announcing today and we will continue to innovate to serve users changing needs.
Facebook says the tools launching today are a response to requests from both users and experts, including a request to have the ability to dynamically control who sees each individual piece of content. Facebooks new Publisher Privacy Control, which is the main place to add content such as photos and status updates, will provide this function and is rolling out to users today. It will enable users to make some posts visible to all their Facebook friends, and limit access to other to a selected few.
Facebooks users are being offered a Transition Tool, which the company describes as a transparent process requiring people to review and update their privacy settings.This tool will start with a message that explains the changes and will then let users update their settings. Users will be presented with two options: preserving their old settings or accepting recommendations from Facebook.
Facebook says the recommendations are designed to help people connect and share in a responsible way, by taking into account how users have shared that information previously and recognizing that users may consider some information more sensitive. Potentially sensitive information, like phone numbers, is assigned a more restrictive recommendation. Facebook will suggest that users retain settings they have previously configured, but if users have not changed their settings in the past, Facebooks recommendations will be pre-selected. Users can change any of the selections and they must confirm all selections before they take effect.
Once users have updated their settings, they will be shown a confirmation page that will let them review their selections again. The confirmation page also provides a link to the full Privacy Settings page where users can modify settings further as they see fit.