Basically, their new Publisher Privacy Control will allow you to choose, each time you publish, exactly who sees it. They're rolling it out slowly, to a small group of users, but it will soon be available to everyone.
Here's how Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly described it in the blog post: "For example, you may want to make some posts available to everyone, while restricting others to your friends and family. You should be able to make that decision every time you share something on Facebook, and soon you'll be able to do this."
We're thrilled. Finally, you choose, each time you post something, if this is something you want your coworkers, family or friends to see without having to mess around in the confusing privacy interface. You will even be able to send things directly to just two or three people's walls. And, if you're the type of person, like Bridget and I, who have created "groups" of people, this makes those groups suddenly much more useful.
Boca Raton-based Multiply already had this option since 2004 - Bridget wrote about it back in May for its redesign. (If you want to read Bridget's whole post on it, it's here.) Here's an image what it looks like when you upload something to Multiply:
It's not the first time we've seen similarities between the sites. Multiply's CEO Peter Pezaris says they had a news feed before Facebook launched its own version.
Either way, we think it's great that Facebook has acknowledged what a pain their privacy settings have been to use. We're sure this will be a learning curve for most users, as well, considering some people still can't figure out the difference between a wall post and a status update.
We're looking forward to using this feature - and wondering how well it will work to keep certain parts of your Facebook life private.
UPDATE FROM BRIDGET:
I spoke with Michael Gersh, Multiply's COO and co-founder, who talked about how the social networking site has had this privacy feature since it launched in 2004. Multiply's audience tends to be families, aka the "Digital Moms," who want to post high resolution photos of baby's first bath with close connections. He said because of that, connections on Multiply have always been set up so they go into categories, like business contacts or family -- meaning not everyone is a "friend." And you can see what friends of friends have publicly posted without connecting to them.
"Facebook added a lot of features after we had it," Gersh said, adding regardless if Facebook modeled it after them or not, "people look to others for innovation."