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New Facebook Privacy Controls, Sprint for iPhone 5, Sony NEX-5N and RIM's Curves: BYTE Newsbriefs

New Privacy Settings for Facebook, iPhone 5 to support Sprint service and RIM BlackBerry Curve smartphone news. August 23, 2011 BYTE Briefs.

In a move affecting its wide membership, Facebook today announced new privacy controls. At first glance, the privacy policy at Facebook is at least headed in the right direction.

Facebook folk will see the changes later this week, according Chris Cox, vice-president of product at Facebook, in a Facebook post.

"Today we're announcing a bunch of improvements that make it easier to share posts, photos, tags and other content with exactly the people you want. You have told us that "who can see this?" could be clearer across Facebook," Cox wrote, "so we have made changes to make this more visual and straightforward."

"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," Cox said. "Plus there are several other updates here that will make it easier to understand who can see your stuff ... in any context. Here's what's coming up, organized around two areas: what shows up on your profile, and what happens when you share something new.

My colleague, Robert Strohmeyer at The Brainyard, summed up the top privacy changes you should know about.

Major changes include the ability to block tagging and posting of photos of members on their Facebook Wall, changeable privacy settings for photos and posts and the elimination of the hard-to-find privacy settings page Facebook members use now.

Facebook execs said the new privacy controls aren't in response to privacy techniques in Google+, a competing system that offers markedly similar controls to those Facebook announced today.

Certainly improved privacy settings in Facebook will appeal to its business users. Whether these changes will satisfy privacy watchdogs in Europe and the US is another matter.

In early June, EU privacy advocates opened an investigation into Facebook and its use of facial recognition to automate photo tagging.

Two days later, a US privacy consortium led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) filed a formal request for investigation with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Find the entire complaint here.

Out of its seven complaints against Facebook, EPIC outlined seven allegations that amount to In February, EPIC filed an FTC complaint against Google and its Google Buzz network for allegedly violating user privacy and federal wiretap laws.

At press time, Facebook and Google were unavailable for comment.

Also in the news and around the web today, The Wall Street Journal reported Sprint will join Verizon and AT&T as carriers for Apple's upcoming iPhone 5.

In other smartphone news, Research in Motion (RIM) announced its new BlackBerry Curve models 9350, 9360 and 9370 will be available next month, with a global rollout to follow. Each supports NFC and sports an 800MHz processor and a 5-megapixel camera, reps said. Pricing is as yet unavailable.

Watch BYTE and listen to BYTE Wireless Radio for in-depth coverage on these and other developing stories.

Based in San Francisco, CA, Gina Smith is editor-in-chief at BYTE. Follow her @ginasmith888 or email her at

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