Facebook has finally introduced long-awaited changes to its privacy controls, following weeks of protests during which thousands of users even threatened to quit the social networking giant.
The controls, which were announced in a blog post by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, also come as he was attacked personally by several users for seemingly not caring about users’ need for privacy.
Zuckerberg’s blog, which comes just days after he wrote an article in the Washington Post admitting some of the company’s mistakes, introduce some simpler controls for users wanting to protect data on their profiles.
“We’ve built one simple control to set who can see the content you post. In a couple of clicks, you can set the content you’ve posted to be open to everyone, friends of your friends or just your friends.”
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“This control will also apply to settings in new products we launch going forward. So if you decide to share your content with friends only, then we will set future settings to friends only as well. This means you won’t have to worry about new settings in the future.”
This overall control, which is the first of two major changes, comes after a number of users attacked the company for making privacy controls too complex.
While Facebook has introduced dozens of different controls for users to customise every single piece of their profile, many users said this was too complex to use and they became confused about who was able to view their data.
Additionally, during some of Facebook’s upgrades to privacy controls, some of this data accidentally defaulted to “public” view, and because of the complexity of the privacy controls system, many users said they didn’t know how to change them back.
Zuckerberg says this new simple control system allows users to access a simple portal from which to review their information, and see who can view it.
“This single control makes it easier to set who can see all your content at once, but you can still use all of the same granular controls we’ve offered if you’d like.”
The second of the new reforms is a major change to just how much basic information is visible to all Facebook users. Zuckerberg said in the post users will now have the ability to control who can see friend lists and pages, two topics often complained about by users.
The problem is that by default, “friend lists” and “fan pages” are public, so any user can view these lists on another user’s page. Now, Zuckerberg says, these can be made private.
“The controls for this basic information can be found at the top of the privacy page in Basic Directory Information. We recommend that you make these settings open to everyone. Otherwise, people you know may not be able to find you and that will make the site less useful for you.”
Zuckerberg also said new controls have been made to reduce the amount of information being sent to third-party applications and websites. This platform can be shut off completely by users who don’t want to share their information.
As a result of these changes, he said, Facebook’s total reform of privacy controls is complete. The whole process has been a headache for the company, with over 14,000 users even signing up to a “Quit Facebook” protest to occur on May 31.
The controversy wasn’t helped by leaked comments from Zuckerberg, recorded during his time at Harvard University. The billionaire reportedly said thousands of students were “f***ing idiots” for handing over personal information for an early version of the site.
But in today’s blog post, the 26-year old said while the company had made mistakes, it hopes to remedy them as quickly as possible.
The company currently controls the social networking market. But some analysts have suggested the 400 million user base could dwindle if Zuckerberg does nothing to control users’ fears about how their data is being used.
“Each time we make a change we try to learn from past lessons, and each time we make new mistakes too. We are far from perfect, but we always try our hardest to build the best service for you and for the world.”
The new changes will be rolling out to all users within the next few weeks.