Facebook users concerned about privacy settings

10 Dec 2009

While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined in a blog post that the new privacy settings brought to the social-networking site are designed to move to a personalised privacy model, many users are not happy with some of the changes, concerned it will inadvertently expose their private data to everyone.

Zuckerberg explained that as regional networks grew members, who account for 50pc of Facebook users, so was sharing data with millions of people.

“… as Facebook has grown, some of these regional networks now have millions of members and we’ve concluded that this is no longer the best way for you to control your privacy,” he said.

The good stuff

The new settings bring some positive changes: the number of settings have been reduced and are easier to find and tweak, however, this has reduced the amount of control the user has over their privacy settings.

Another advantage is that users can change privacy on a post-by-post basis, but overall the default privacy settings offered by Facebook, if chosen, leaves content posted by the user on their page, eg, status updates or comments on the wall, completely open to the internet at large.

Facebook has stated that if you have tweaked your privacy settings in the past these will be kept as default, but if you have never done this you will by default have status updates made completely publicly available.

“Facebook has become unsafe almost overnight,” commented one user on the Facebook blog.

“There is now no way to protect yourself from people who mean you harm. It’s all very well being able to block particular people but you don’t know if they have more than one Facebook account,” he added.

“In addition to that, third-party applications can now legitimately publish people’s names and profile pictures to whoever they like and blocking people doesn’t work for that.”


Another commenter on the Facebook blog asks why Facebook’s new privacy settings gives the option of blocking information from others with Facebook accounts while at the same time making it easier to let the web at large see the same data: “Why would I want to hide my friend list from people who are logged in (eg, my friends) but leave it visible to any casual web surfer who comes across my profile? How is this better? Shouldn’t this be vice versa?”

The US Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) privacy group waded in, adding that the changes “may result in greater disclosure than users intend”.

By Marie Boran

Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.