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Facebook & Privacy

May 31, 2010

It’s about time! Facebook has changed our privacy settings. Again. But this time, it’s good news! Really.

In response to recent widespread outrage that its privacy controls were too complicated and too unreliable, Facebook has finally provided what we’ve all been wanting for a very long time: a super-simple, easy-to-use, master privacy control. You can now easily select whether you want to share your life (photos, bio, status updates, contact info, etc.) with:

  • Everyone,
  • Friends of Friends,
  • Only Friends, or
  • The customizable “Other.”

This master control will (at last!!) enable you to determine who can see what you post — in the past, present, and the future. This means whatever you select will automatically serve as the default whenever you share things on Facebook, even in the future, which is key, because up until now, you’ve had to remember to set your desired level of privacy on each thing you post individually.

While Facebook has offered super-granular privacy controls for awhile, not all users took advantage of them. A new study has found that 71 percent of users aged 18 to 29 say they have changed their Facebook privacy settings from the default.

But while the young and “super-users” may have had the time and energy to remember to set privacy rules for everything, every time they posted something — and the patience and diligence to keep up with the constant changes to Facebook’s privacy rules over the years — many others did not. (As the New York Times called it: Facebook’s earlier menu of 50 settings with over 170 choices was simply “A Bewildering Tangle of Options.”)

Now — hallelujah! — with this new “simplified” controller, even an average casual Facebook user can choose the level of sharing with which he or she is comfortable. And for more on that, I highly recommend this great article: 10 Things You Need to Know about Facebook’s Privacy Changes.

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