Facebook boosts application privacy controls

Users will be able to assign a variety of access levels to content posted via applications

Facebook has made it possible for its members to assign, on the fly, a wider variety of access levels to content they post using third-party applications and Web sites, the company said Wednesday.

Previously, members chose a default privacy setting for content shared via applications, and that setting was then applied across the board to this type of post going forward.

While this default setting remains, members now have the option to apply a different access setting to each thing they post through an application or Web site, on a case-by-case basis, according to Facebook.

For example, when using an application that lets members post greeting cards, members can now handpick on whose friends' Walls they want a particular card to appear.

The more granular access controls apply to third-party applications, external Web sites linked to Facebook via the Connect system and Facebook's mobile version. Some client software that lets members perform Facebook actions, such as Seesmic, is also incorporating the new access levels.

This change is consistent with a similar move Facebook made previously to let members assign different privacy settings to every post they make using the site's core features.

The access controls include options such as "everyone," which makes a post visible to all Facebook members, "friends of friends" and "friends."

Social-networking privacy, always a hot topic, has been in the spotlight in the past week due to an outcry over Google's Buzz social feature for Gmail.

Buzz initially created an automatic list of friends for users based on the people they interact with the most via Gmail and Google Talk. It made that list public by default on the user's Google Profile. Google has since apologized and modified Buzz to address the privacy concerns.

Facebook got hit recently with a class-action lawsuit over the modifications it made late last year to its privacy settings, which included making some profile information public that previously could be kept hidden.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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