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Facebook unveils new privacy settings

Hip, hip hooray! Facebook just announced a new series of privacy settings that will give users much more control over who can see what on Facebook.

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.

Facebook's New Privacy Settings 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:

Multiply privacy

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.


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."


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This article is wildly inaccurate. The new "Facebook Privacy" settings are configured to, by default, share EVERY POST AND PIECE OF INFO YOU EVER POSTED TO FACEBOOK ON THE INTERNET. Got that? Facebook's goal here is allow all of the content of all of it's users to be searchable from Google. By default. Read the real story at the Washington Post: tinyurl.com/m8sreb

Hi ExMiamian, Bridget here.

In regards to your comment, having outsiders see your stuff on Facebook is not a new privacy issue. Facebook outsiders can see everything if you don't block people in the privacy settings. Niala and I have always preached the importance of setting up privacy filters.

If a user chooses for everyone to see it and not just friends, that's the user's choice. And Facebook will alert people that they need to take a new look at their privacy settings. Unfortunately, I'm sure there will be people who don't always understand or think about the consequences of posting college keg party photos to the world.

But you can count on one thing -- as soon as this launches, Niala and I will be on a mission to teach people the new interface, the different levels of privacy settings and how allowing everyone really means everyone.

Hi Bridget...it is clear that you still don't understand how facebook works, and how the new "privacy features" are designed to expose postings to A MUCH LARGER GROUP..ie. GOOGLE, than the settings lead the users to believe.

Here are quotes from other, more well informed technologists:


"The feature is confusing if not outright broken. A lot of messages intended for limited distribution are going to be sent out wider than the author intended. That's not good.

Ultimately some more clarity around just what Facebook wants to do with privacy would be really helpful. The company tends to talk in very simple terms to its users but has recently hired professional lobbyists in both the US and Europe to advance its privacy agenda. But what is that agenda?"

And here is another, seasoned technologist:

"Facebook also wants to encourage people to use the “everyone” setting, which right now just means “every Facebook user.” But the company is going to eventually change that setting to mean “everyone on the Web”–meaning that Google (GOOG) users, marketers, whoever, will be able to find that stuff, too."

Bridget, you just don't get it.

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