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Facebook Launches Controversial Privacy Settings

10 Dic/09

About a week ago Facebook’s own Mark Zuckerberg posted an open letter to the community announcing some long awaited privacy changes to the popular social networking website. What most users would not have expected at that time was how controversial these new privacy settings would be. What Mark announced was better privacy for Facebook users. What Facebook users got is something different.

The new release contains some changes that are beneficial for a user’s privacy on Facebook. This includes per post privacy settings and simpler privacy settings. But there are also major concerns addressed by the EFF or ACLU. This includes criticism of the new recommended privacy settings which actually reduce the privacy that a Facebook user has on the website.

facebook privacy

There are four settings for instance which Facebook previously recommended to be only visible to friends including posts made by the user or the work and relation history. The new privacy settings recommend making the data available to everyone. Another three settings that have also been recommended to be only visible to friends in the past are now recommended to be visible to friends and their friends including photos and political and religious views. (see what does the Facebook privacy transition mean for me for the full picture).

And there are other privacy changes that the EFF calls outright ugly including to the issue of controlling who gets to see personal information.

Under the new regime, Facebook treats that information — along with your name, profile picture, current city, gender, networks, and the pages that you are a “fan” of — as “publicly available information” or “PAI.” Before, users were allowed to restrict access to much of that information. Now, however, those privacy options have been eliminated.

The interesting question in this context is why Facebook did change the privacy settings the way they did. The natural answer at this point seems to suggest that this is done to increase the exposure of the website to the search engines and users.

Facebook users will receive a notification upon Facebook login that will notify them about the changes. It is currently possible to skip the changes for now. What’s your opinion on the changes introduced by Facebook?

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