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Facebook does major overhaul of privacy settings

(Xinhua)

14:14, August 24, 2011

BEIJING, Aug. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Facebook said it is overhauling its privacy settings to give members easier, more precise control over who sees posts, photos and other content over the vast social network.

Starting Thursday, Facebook is rolling out new privacy tools that are placed with each piece of content, replacing options that are now buried in overall account settings.

Privacy has been a consistently sticky problem for the Palo Alto firm, which has felt the heat from privacy advocates and government regulators. And recently, Facebook faced stiffer competition from Google's new Google+ social network, which was hailed for including a "circles" feature with easy-to-use privacy settings.

Instead of vague labels such as "everyone," which have been mistaken for a Facebook member's social network instead of anyone on the Internet, the new system will include more precise words such as "public."

"You have told us that 'who can see this?' could be clearer across Facebook, so we have made changes to make this more visual and straightforward," Chris Cox, Facebook's vice president of product, said in blog post.

"The main change is moving most of your controls from a settings page to being inline, right next to the posts, photos and tags they affect. Plus there are several other updates here that will make it easier to understand who can see your stuff (or your friends') in any context," Cox said.

While privacy advocates reserved judgment until the new settings are actually released, they were optimistic the changes will benefit consumers.

"These changes do make me feel very confident in the direction that Facebook is going and the way they are thinking about privacy," said Erica Newland, policy analyst for the Center for Democracy & Technology in Washington, D.C.


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