Facebook to streamline privacy for users

facebookMark Zuckerberg released an open letter to Facebook users that promised to keep information private by making it simpler to do so. Zuckerberg also said that Facebook, originally created for college students to find one another, has grown exponentially and that its current regional networks are therefore obsolete:

The plan we've come up with is to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone. . . .

Since this update will remove regional networks and create some new settings, in the next couple of weeks we'll ask you to review and update your privacy settings. You'll see a message that will explain the changes and take you to a page where you can update your settings. When you're finished, we'll show you a confirmation page so you can make sure you chose the right settings for you. As always, once you're done you'll still be able to change your settings whenever you want.

The open letter is likely a response to the number of Facebook online petitions circulating, that incorrectly state that Facebook is giving user photographs and information to advertisers (I should know, I got four pleas to protest Facebook's hoax decision in my Facebook status update!) The online petitions hit hysterical proportions just before Thanksgiving, when Facebook manager of policy communications Barry Schnitt posted "Debunking Rumors about Advertising and Photos" on the company blog, a reiteration of Facebook's advertising policies written on July 24:

If you see a Wall post or receive a message with the following language or something similar, it is this false rumor:

FACEBOOK has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures WITHOUT your permission.

The advertisements that started these rumors were not from Facebook but placed within applications by third parties. Those ads violated our policies by misusing profile photos, and we already required the removal of those deceptive ads from third-party applications before this rumor began spreading.

Facebook wisely realized that its users' passion for privacy was a concern -- a valid one. Showing the company is actively working on a new place to keep that information private will only endear their product/company to its users. If Facebook's newest settings can create safer information, then it will be a win-win for both the media company and its millions of users. Now for advertisers . . .

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