Facebook to Reset Privacy Settings

PALO ALTO, Calif.—Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg posted a message to the Facebook blog Wednesday outlining changes to the social networking site that will alter the way people can manage their privacy settings. The move comes as the number of people on Facebook exceeds the 350 million mark.

It is in fact the growing numbers of people using the social networking site that convinced Zuckerberg and his team that the time had come to allow users more incremental control over who can access their personal data.

“Facebook's current privacy model revolves around "networks"—communities for your school, your company or your region. This worked well when Facebook was mostly used by students, since it made sense that a student might want to share content with their fellow students,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Over time people also asked us to add networks for companies and regions as well. Today we even have networks for some entire countries, like India and China.”

Some regional networks now have millions of members, however, leading administrators to conclude that a better way to control your privacy needed to be implemented. With almost 50 percent of all Facebook users are members of regional networks, resolving the issue meant that potentially 100 million people would have more control of their information.

“The plan we've come up with is to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone,” said Zuckerberg. “We're adding something that many of you have asked for—the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload. In addition, we'll also be fulfilling a request made by many of you to make the privacy settings page simpler by combining some settings.”

The new settings will be rolled out over the next few weeks. Members will be shown a message that explains the changes and takes them to a page where they can update their settings. When they’re finished, they’ll be shown a confirmation page with the new settings.

“We'll suggest settings for you based on your current level of privacy, but the best way for you to find the right settings is to read through all your options and customize them for yourself,” said Zuckerberg. “I encourage you to do this and consider who you're sharing with online.”

AVN asked FSC Membership Director and Facebook Queen Joanne Cachapero what she thinks of the proposed changes, and asked her whether she thinks having more control over who sees what could be a good thing for people in adult entertainment, many of whom get kicked off the site after posting racy photos.

“I still think that they will be looking for people who are a little too much, unless they're going to have you swear that by being someone's friend, you are totally accepting what kind of content they post,” she said. “For instance, on Thanksgiving, I posted a YouTube clip called "Thanksgiving Blowjobs" It was a comedy sketch about turkeys trying to avoid the ax. The next day I get an email from [Industry friend] saying that though he "loves me" (and we are personal friends) that he has to knock me off his friends list because he can't have family and friends seeing something that says "Thanksgiving Blowjobs." I had no control over where that clip went; it went to a random selection of people on my friends list (all 603 of them). So, unless I have to designate every time who gets what ... if that's the kind of function they're adding, not sure how that will work.”

At the end of the day, says Cachapero, simplicity and ease of operation is what Facebook users like best about the site.

“The reason why people like FB is because it’s not cumbersome,” she said. “If they can make the functionality easy while making it simple to pick who sees what content, then fine. But I hate the idea of having to cherrypick which friends can see what. I think in a social network, you need to be very specific about whom you befriend; otherwise you end up with people like me, who will make controversial posts. I use mine for work and personal, but others may want just business or just personal—that's up to them. All I know is, Facebook updates a lot and usually people hate it. They don't like changes. But if it's improvement, then party on.”

A true Facebook aficionado, Cachapero couldn’t help but take a last obligatory swipe at some recent changes to the site. “I didn't like the last upgrade, with the separate ‘news’ feed and ‘live’ feed,” she said. “It doesn't make much sense.”