facebook 300x112 Facebook Blows Past 350 Million Users   Adds Vital Privacy ControlsIt is a bit awe-inspiring to sit back and look at the five year Facebook trajectory. From a few colleges, to now more than 350 million users. Facebook is a global force in an of itself.

Mark Zuckerberg has just annouced, via an open letter, that Facebook will be rolling out a number of new privacy controls over the next few weeks, and removing regional networks. When I joined Facebook probably four years ago, these networks were useful, as so few people were on Facebook.

But now with hundreds of millions teeming the site with traffic, sharing more with the people of Chicago, than all of Illinois makes little sense. Facebook gets this, but I have a serious guess that its users will not. Prepare for riots ala the last Facebook update.

But Facebook is leading with the carrot: you will soon be able to decide who can see what individial piece of content that you upload. Now you can put up those crazy pictures from the weekend, if your mother is on Facebook or not.

Can I get a hell yes from the party people?

The open letter format is useful, but judging from the comments, people have one thing in mind: the dislike button. Here, take a sample:

 Facebook Blows Past 350 Million Users   Adds Vital Privacy Controls

Bleating aside, this marks something of the final progression of Facebook from the cloistered refuge of the elite, to the bazaar of the Hoi Polloi. Like it or not, Facebook just told us that it was global, and heading more in that direction.

All aboard the Facebook train.

- update -

A few commenters have complained at my summary, so in a more terse and compact form, here it is:

Regional networks are a bit unweildly, we are going to go ahead and do away with them. We are putting in new privacy controls. The new controls will: “create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone.We’re adding something that many of you have asked for — the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload.” We will be rolling out this in the next few weeks. We will walk you through it. You need to update your settings in the next few weeks. Thanks for Facebooking.