It had to happen. After a firestorm of criticism concerning its privacy stance Facebook is backing down from audcacious plans to push public data, and will in coming weeks offer new privacy options to users.
Facebook’s Tim Sparapani points out that the company has noticed users find its privacy controls to be overly complex. A bit of an understatement, but true all the same. Exactly what form these controls will manifest themselves in has yet to be fully released.
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According to Wired’s Ryan Singel:
While it’s not clear what those options will look like or if they will be presented to existing users, one supposes that at least new users will be given some broad options to choose from along the lines of “I’m an exhibitionist,” “I like sharing with a lot of people, but not everybody” and “I’m a private person who just wants to share with friends and family.” Currently, new users are set to very public defaults, including having their profile information shared with other online services such as Yelp and Pandora.
The question becomes is this too little, too late? Facebook has been playing a long game around privacy with its users, but has only a few times stepped far enough out of bounds to get called on a foul. The last few weeks were one of those times.
As we have reported, some users have organized a day to quit Facebook as a group to protest the website’s alleged privacy abuses. While they are on the extreme end of the discussion, their opinion need to noted as partially indicative.
If Facebook plays its cards correctly it will reverse automatically public data for any part of a users profile, and any information that it contains. That is the crux of the problem, that Facebook shares what people do not expressly allow it to. Get to work Facebook.