Facebook's New Privacy Controls

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday that majors changes to privacy settings on the site would begin rolling out today. The world complained – and Facebook listened. Today, Zuck strode onto the stage at the Facebook headquarters in a grey hoodie to give those assembled the run-down on the new settings. To those in attendance, he appeared calm and confident. Somehow, though, I have a feeling that a bit of that cocky demeanor has shifted in recent weeks. Wouldn’t you lose a bit of your brashness if half the world was breathing down your neck? The changes outlined today are pretty major. That is an indication that Mark knows things were seriously screwed up, and he admitted as much during the press conference.

The changes to the privacy settings went into effect almost immediately once the live event started. As Mark reminded us of the Facebook philosophy that “the world is more open and connected when people are driven to share more,” millions of site users stared in wonderment at how simple it appears to be now. According to Mark, people want to share things… it’s human nature. Facebook wanted to make it possible for us to do so from the very beginning. He strongly believes that the best way to accomplish this is to give us control over what we share.

“We’ve gotten the sense that a lot of what we did – we didn’t communicate well and a lot of things got lost in that. We had to simplify controls and take things back to basics. Some things are valuable to share with everyone… but some things should remain private,” Zuckerberg stated quietly. His voice boomed a little louder as he said that it will eventually “get to a point where it’s so hard to control your information that people end up sharing far less, and that is something I never want to see happen.”

Beginning now, there are three major changes to the privacy control area on Facebook, all of which are outlined in a new guide on the site:

  • ONE SIMPLE CONTROL.
  • Changes will apply to all of your content retroactively. For example, if you change a setting today on your photos to only share them with friends, it will roll back and change all pictures you’ve ever posted to be only shared with friends.
  • These changes made today will apply to all new products going forward. If you later want to share your pictures with the world, you’re going to have to change the setting.

The default settings for all of your content can now be set with one single click. You will have “complete control over who sees your information,” says Zuck.

When it comes to your directory information, you will have less publicly available information, real privacy controls and the necessity for friends to find you. For third party apps, there is some excellent news: there is now one checkbox to turn off instant personalization. Mark says it would be “too confusing” to simply turn that off site-wide and start from scratch. Instead, you’ll have the option to click a box and opt-out of instant personalization. If you do, it will automagically delete all of your information from third party applications. This is fantastic news for many people out there who have been highly ticked off by the way their information was handled and processed by these apps.

All in all, the announcements are good. While Facebook didn’t switch everything to an “opt-in” process as many had hoped, they made every effort to keep their network of users happier.

Thanks to @scobleizer for getting this video of the press conference up so quickly!