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Facebook Privacy Changes Draw Flak

Members fear their information may be inadvertently exposed to the entire Web.
Facebook is taking criticism from members who say changes made Wednesday by the social networking site to enhance privacy do anything but.

"If I wasn't so into the games, I'd probably close my account," wrote a poster on the unofficial blog AllFacebook.com. "Major privacy violations going on, and they're not making it clear or giving any option to opt out of this," wrote the poster, who identified himself simply as Facebook User.

Another contributor the blog, Haem Guy, also wasn't pleased with the changes.

"I have spent the last 20 minutes trying to find the option to not allow this, what a joke. I thought the new privacy settings were to make it stricter not more open," Haem Guy complained. Most of the other comments on the blog were also negative.

Users' biggest complaint about the changes is that the default privacy setting on Facebook now opens users' status updates to the entire Web, unless the user proactively takes steps to modify the settings.

Facebook announced Wednesday that it's implementing a number of changes to its privacy settings in what it positioned as an effort to make it easier for members to control who can see which pieces of information.

"Facebook dis transforming the world's ability to control its information online by empowering more than 350 million people to personalize the audience for each piece of content they share," said Facebook communications VP Elliot Schrage, in a statement.

Facebook added a tool that lets users select privacy settings for literally each post they place on the social networking site. Via a new dropdown menu, users can specify whether the post should be made to the general public, all their Facebook friends, or a list of particular friends, family members, or work colleagues.

Facebook also launched a "transition tool" to guide members through the new settings.

Additionally, Facebook is eliminating regional networks—user groups that allow members within a given geographical region to automatically share content with other network members. Facebook operates such networks around the world, including far-flung areas like India and China.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said the regional networks are becoming too large to ensure members' privacy.

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