New Facebook Privacy Settings Explained: This Week’s New Privacy Settings Making Control Simple, says Facebook.

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  • New Facebook Privacy Settings Explained:  This Week’s New Privacy Settings Making Control Simple, says Facebook.

When I was a child growing up in New England, we had a saying: If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. The same, it seems, can be said for Facebook’s privacy policies. Barely 4 weeks ago, Facebook announced their new “open graph platform that follows you across the web – a privacy policy that seems based on the less (privacy) is more (revenue) principle. A mere 4 months earlier, Facebook announced sweeping privacy policy changes that users found beyond confusing. And a few months before that Facebook announced privacy policy changes that allowed developers to mine your Facebook inbox for data! And now, just today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced yet another change to Facebook’s privacy policies and Facebook privacy settings system, this one, he promises, “making control simple.”

According to Zuckerberg, the reason for this most recent change to Facebook’s privacy settings system is that users were complaining (he called it sending Facebook “lots of feedback”) that the privacy settings and controls were “too hard” to use.

Says Zuckerberg, “We’ve listened carefully in order to figure out the best next steps. We recognize that we made a lot of changes, so we really wanted to take the time to understand your feedback and make sure we address your concerns… The number one thing we’ve heard is that there just needs to be a simpler way to control your information. We’ve always offered a lot of controls, but if you find them too hard to use then you won’t feel like you have control… Today we’re starting to roll out some changes that will make all of these controls a lot simpler.”

He then goes on to say that Facebook has “focused on three things: a single control for your content, more powerful controls for your basic information and an easy control to turn off all applications.”

To us here at the Internet Patrol this is already sounding like it’s a bit more complicated than “simple” suggests, and so here are the new Facebook privacy controls explained:

 

First, here is the general layout of the new control panel:

 

facebook-privacy-settings-may-2010

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New Facebook Privacy Settings Explained:  This Week’s New Privacy Settings Making Control Simple, says Facebook.

 

“Sharing on Facebook” means who can see your status updates, and other information that you post regularly (or not) to Facebook:

 

facebook-privacy-settings-may-2010-sharing-on-facebook

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“Basic directory information” is information such as your name, your hometown, and whether you’re male or female. This information is, by default, visible to everyone because, says Facebook, “it’s essential to helping people find and connect with you on Facebook.”

 

facebook-privacy-settings-may-2010-basic-directory-information

 

“Applications and Websites” refers to what is shared with and via the applications you have permitted, and websites with which you have agreed (knowingly or not) to share information. This is the heart of what is known as the “Facebook Platform”. Says Facebook, “applications and websites you and your friends use already have access to your name, profile picture, gender, networks, friend list, user ID, and any other information you share with everyone” via the Platform. But, explains Facebook, you can turn this sharing off – but it also means no longer having access to the Facebook Platform applications.

 

facebook-privacy-settings-may-2010-applications-and-websites

 

“Block Lists” allow you to keep specific people from seeing your information on Facebook, or from otherwise interacting with you. This is also where you can view the applications you’ve blocked and, if you like, you can choose to ignore application invitations from specific people.

 

facebook-privacy-settings-may-2010-blocklists

 

Zuckerberg also took the opportunity to mention that he had just celebrated his 26th birthday, and to remind us that he was just 19 when he started Facebook. While the CEO’s youth and relative lack of experience is certainly not an excuse for the vagaries of the Facebook privacy policy, it may well be an explanation.

  
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New Facebook Privacy Settings Explained:  This Week’s New Privacy Settings Making Control Simple, says Facebook.

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