Facebook CEO Promises 'Simpler' Privacy Controls - InformationWeek

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5/24/2010
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Facebook CEO Promises 'Simpler' Privacy Controls

Mark Zuckerberg says his company "missed the mark" on privacy controls and will deliver changes 'in the coming weeks.'

In response to public and government outrage over privacy concerns, Facebook is expected to soon unveil simpler privacy controls and enable users to turn off all third-party services.

Company co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a column he penned for Monday's Washington Post: "We just missed the mark. We have heard the feedback."

Currently, Facebook has 50 privacy settings and 170 privacy options, a confusing array that has generated a host of angry blog postings, websites and government letters.

"The biggest message we have heard recently is that people want easier control over their information," wrote Zuckerberg. "Simply put, many of you thought our controls were too complex. Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted."

Last month, Facebook added a "Like" button that gathered users' preferences from across the web. The site's "Instant Personalization" button allowed sites such as Yelp and Pandora to use Facebook data to customize users experiences. This expanded access to consumers' data also came under fire.

"We have also heard that some people don't understand how their personal information is used and worry that it is shared in ways they don't want," Zuckerberg wrote in his column. "Many people choose to make some of their information visible to everyone so people they know can find them on Facebook. We already offer controls to limit the visibility of that information and we intend to make them even stronger."

Earlier this month, Facebook convened a general meeting to address the public's growing concerns and the announcement of Quit Facebook Day on May 31.

The phrase "how to quit Facebook" generated nearly 17 million results in a recent Google search, and prominent tech industry figures are ditching their accounts on the social networking site.

On Sunday, during an email exchange with tech blogger Robert Scoble, Zuckerberg admitted Facebook had made errors.

"I know we’ve made a bunch of mistakes, but my hope at the end of this is that the service ends up in a better place and that people understand that our intentions are in the right place and we respond to the feedback from the people we serve," Zuckerberg said.

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