Facebook kills regional networks in privacy revamp

The social-networking site will also soon allow users to control who sees individual pieces of content

Facebook will soon make major changes to the social-networking site's privacy settings as it tries to make it easier for users to know what personal information and photographs they're sharing.

Facebook will eliminate "regional networks," or groupings of people based on where they live, wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on his company's blog on Wednesday.

Networks were created to allow people belonging to the same school, club or company to be grouped together. The feature was popular, and Facebook eventually allowed networks of people based on geography, such as the "London" group or "India."

Joining a network meant its members could see information and photographs on a person's profile, essentially the equivalent of "friending" someone.

The data would be available to complete strangers unless a user made specific changes to their privacy settings, which many users simply forget or are unaware they can control.

Zuckerberg wrote that networks worked well in Facebook's early days when it was used mostly by students. But now the site has at least 350 million registered users.

"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," Zuckerberg wrote.

"Almost 50 percent of all Facebook users are members of regional networks, so this is an important issue for us. If we can build a better system, then more than 100 million people will have even more control of their information."

Facebook also plans to add the ability to administer access for each piece of content posted to the site, a feature Zuckerberg said has been requested by users.

In the next two weeks, users will be notified of the changes and be asked to update their privacy settings.

"You'll see a message that will explain the changes and take you to a page where you can update your settings," Zuckerberg wrote. "When you're finished, we'll show you a confirmation page so you can make sure you chose the right settings for you."

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Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
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