Last month, Facebook announced plans to simplify its users’ ability to control privacy settings. Facebook will standardize privacy settings, remove overlapping settings, and put all settings on the same page. In an effort to give users more control over how their information is shared, Facebook will allow users to decide, on a post-by-post basis, with whom to share their content. Users will have the option of sharing their posts with: 1) only specific friends, 2) all friends, 3) friends and people in the user’s network, 4) friends of friends, or 5) everyone. According to media reports, the “everyone” option will soon expand to include anyone on the internet – a move widely seen as an attempt to compete with Twitter. Facebook will launch a Transition Tool that will prompt users to set their level of sharing, and will carry over previous privacy settings.
The announcement carefully explained that the changes would not affect the information Facebook provides to its advertisers – a topic related to the controversy earlier this year surrounding proposed revisions to the Facebook terms of service. Instead, Facebook will continue to provide advertisers with only that information that users have authorized.
With the changes, Facebook will provide users with more options for controlling access to their content. As one might predict given the current climate favoring increased user control over privacy, Facebook’s proposed changes have largely been well received. Only time will tell whether most users will exercise this control to share their data or whether they will favor keeping their information private.