Facebook's New Privacy Settings: Here's What Changed

Facebook today announced a revamp of its user privacy controls, responding to widespread public criticism following its f8 conference product launches with systematic changes that it said came out of weeks of nights-and-weekend work by its top engineers and designers. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the release a “modern privacy system” that reflects what the site has become and incorporates feedback from users.

“We made a lot of changes at the same time, and a lot of what we were trying to do we didn’t communicate that well,” said Zuckerberg. He acknowledged users felt there were so many controls that they were overwhelmed and didn’t feel comfortable sharing.

Here are the most important changes, which will roll out to users shortly, heralded by a notice at the top of their home pages:

The main privacy settings page lets users toggle between sharing various types of content with everyone, friends of friends, and friends only. Facebook gives broad recommended settings or users can click to customize. This applies to all content retroactively and all content going forward.

What other users can see about you in the directory is limited. You don’t have to share your friend list with other users, and you don’t have to share what pages and interests you have connected to and liked. Facebook warns you that you should probably share some information so that your actual friends can find you.

You can now opt out completely of the Facebook platform. If you do, you won’t be able to access any applications, but applications will then have no information about you. Particularly important is that if you opt out, your friends won’t be able to share your information with other applications. You can also more clearly opt out of the new instant personalization feature. Lastly, in the coming month, outside applications will have to ask for items of your personal data in a much more granular manner.

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