New Facebook privacy controls score good reviews

Users gain ability to strictly monitor who can access content they store on the social network

After enduring withering criticism late last year for the lack of adequate privacy controls in its Beacon advertising system, Facebook garnered positive reviews Wednesday for new controls that let users more strictly monitor who can access the content they create on the site.

The privacy controls launched Wednesday let users limit access to information like photo albums or contact information to specific Facebook friends or friends lists, the company said. Facebook had rolled out the friends list feature in December as a way to help users communicate with groups of friends on the network.

Nick O'Neill, a blogger at All Facebook, noted that the new features provide users with more granular privacy by specifying various settings for each friend list. "This means that, in theory all of my professional contacts will no longer be able to access my photos, and I can start posting those photos of my crazy times in college," he added.

"These new settings have theoretically transformed Facebook, making it possible to manage all of my contacts from one site," O'Neill wrote.

The All Facebook blogger also noted that the social networking firm today also launched a new option that allows users to opt-out of personalized SocialAds that integrate into photos a notice telling his or her friends about recent purchases made at various online retailers.

"If you hadn't noticed already, once in a while your friends' photos have been showing up on ads promoting applications and fan pages," O'Neill said. "Many were turned off by those ads complaining that making money off of our profiles is crossing the line. This is a significant step by Facebook, highlighting that Facebook has granted a higher priority to user privacy over monetization. This is an encouraging step and greatly welcomed considering there wasn't much controversy over the ads as they existed."

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Heather Havenstein

Computerworld
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