Yahoo and Facebook announced Monday their integrated services and features plan will kick off this week, ending speculation from users who wondered what had happened to the companies' much-ballyhooed plan unveiled six months ago.
Under the arrangement, users who have both Yahoo (YHOO) and Facebook accounts can receive updates from friends and family via the Facebook News Feed on their Yahoo homepage, Yahoo mail or other Yahoo sites. Similarly, those who create and share content on Yahoo Sports or Yahoo's Flickr photo site can transmit that information to their Facebook friends and family.
These new features are aimed at bolstering Yahoo's ability to retain customers and increase their engagement with the company's sites beyond its other social media offerings, like its popular fantasy sports leagues.
Privacy Settings Added to the Plan
But in one of the more significant changes to its earlier announced integration plan with Facebook, Yahoo is retooling the way its users can set their privacy settings when connecting to other social media sites -- starting with Facebook.
Facebook has encountered a firestorm of controversy over recent months regarding the way it handled privacy settings for users, so much so that a number of people have deactivated their Facebook accounts. Complaints have ranged from the difficulty users encounter when trying to increase their privacy settings to a breach in security that inadvertently allowed users to see friends' live chats and pending friend requests without permission.
Yahoo Profiles, which is being renamed Yahoo Pulse, aims to make it easier for users to set their privacy settings via a central dashboard, which will manage the information they share with non-Yahoo social accounts and applications linked to their Yahoo accounts. While Yahoo will start with its users' links to Facebook, it plans to include other social media sites later this year.
The Goal Is a "Simple, Trusted Place" for Users to Connect
"More and more, people rely on social sites to share and discover information that matters to them, making Yahoo! uniquely positioned to provide people with all of the mainstream methods of content discovery -- social, search, communications, and editorial," says Cody Simms, senior director of Social Platforms and Yahoo! Developer Network (YDN) at Yahoo, in a statement. "Starting with Facebook, we are bringing all of these elements together to give people one simple, trusted place to share information and connect. We think this offers great benefit to people across the web, and it's key to helping Yahoo! extend our reach and increase engagement."
Yahoo further noted its "simple controls" allow users to change who sees their updates and turn off their updates stream at any time.
Facebook, as well, has been retooling its privacy settings, aiming to bring greater simplicity to its users. Those changes, however, have yet to quell the onslaught of criticism the company has faced.