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Addressing user privacy concerns about who has access to personal information, Facebook rolled out some new tools intended to make it easier for users to quickly determine who can view the photos, comments and other personal info appearing on different parts of the website, and request the photos they’re featured in be taken down.
A new privacy “shortcut” in the top-right hand corner of the website provides quick access to controls that allow users to manage who can contact them. The shortcut was designed to answer critics who complained the old privacy controls were too confusing. “When users don’t understand the concepts and controls and hit surprises, they don’t build the confidence they need,” said Facebook Director of Product Sam Lessin.
In addition to users, privacy regulators could use some more confidence building as Facebook, Google et al continue to gobble up more and more personal user information.
Reuters reports that in April Facebook settled U.S. Federal Trade Commission privacy charges that the social website deceived consumers and forced them to share more personal information than users had intended. The settlement required Facebook to get user consent for certain changes to its privacy settings. In addition, Facebook is subject to 20 years of independent audits.
According to Lessin some users don’t understand that information posted on their Timeline profile page is not the only personal information that could be viewed by others. Now, improvements to the “Activity Log” will make it easier for users to see at a glance all the information that involves them across the social network.
Reuters quotes Facebook saying it is changing the way third-party apps, such as games and music players, get permission to access user data. An app must now provide separate requests to create a personalized service based on a user’s personal information and to post automated messages to the Facebook newsfeed on behalf of a user. Previously users agreed to both terms by approving a single request.
Reuters says nearly 600,000 Facebook users voted to reject the proposed changes, but roughly 300 million were needed for the vote to be binding, under Facebook’s existing rules. Also, under the proposed changes, future voting would be eliminated. Now, without making any value judgments, does this sound anything like the kind of voting they used to have in the old Soviet Union?