The 350 million members of Facebook, the world’s biggest social-networking site, will be asked to review and update their privacy settings, as part of a drive to ensure people are sharing personal information only with approved contacts.
“Facebook is transforming the world’s ability to control its information online by empowering people to personalise the audience for each piece of content they share,” said Elliot Schrage, vice president of communications, public policy and marketing at Facebook. “We’ve always designed Facebook to enable people to control what information they share with whom – it’s the reason our service continues to attract such a broad and diverse group of users from around the world. We’re proud of the latest evolution we’re announcing today and we will continue to innovate to serve users’ changing needs.”
The social networking site said it was implementing the changes in response to requests “from both users and experts”. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, announced the company’s plans to refine the site’s privacy settings, and do away with geographic networks, last week.
Over the coming days, users logging on to the site will be presented with a “transition tool”, which will guide them through the process of reviewing and updating their privacy settings. New users will be encouraged to learn more about privacy once they complete the registration process and will have the opportunity to view a user guide that gives detailed information about privacy settings.
“One of our primary goals is to consistently improve Facebook and expand what our users can do through the site, and that includes providing them with new tools to help control their information,” said Chris Cox, vice president of product management. “The features we’re announcing today aren’t the end point, but are simply the latest step in our iterative process. Great suggestions helped us get here, and we look forward to the feedback that will help us develop the next innovation in privacy and user control.”
Facebook has been criticised in recent weeks for its failure to include a “panic button” on the site, which would allow users to instantly report abusive or inappropriate behaviour to the relevant authorities. Facebook said it did not believe this was the best solution to dealing with the problem of cyberbullying and internet grooming, and has sought alternative measures.
Under the new privacy scheme, the visibility of content created by minors – defined as those Facebook users aged 18 and under – will be limited to only those contacts labelled as “friends” or “friends of friends”, or within a user’s school or work networks, even if they set their profile so that it is visible to everyone on the site.