Examining Facebook’s New Privacy Controls

Last week Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that the privacy controls on the worlds most popular social networking site were going to get a lot easier to manage. Amidst growing concern that the site was stripping users of their ability to control what information is shared about them, this move comes at a time when Facebook is being scrutinized for every move it makes. However, while they may be under the watchful eye of the media and the public, these new privacy controls are the first step in rebuilding an already tarnished image.

First, there is the ability to opt-out of the Facebook platform entirely. This is a smart one. People are so concerned with third parties getting a hold of their data, and now they can choose to block any or all of them from doing so. Perhaps the best feature of this new option is that it is retroactive, meaning that if you opt-in to it, you can still use the site, but wipe away any previous information you may have shared with these third parties. That, my friends, is a big selling point, since so many of us are worried that once we share our information, it’s permanently etched in stone, and in someone else’s hands. Making it retroactive to the point where it clears the slate is a major step forward. Well done, Facebook. Well done.

Second in these new changes, is the ability to control who sees your information all on one page. Previously, you had so many options to click through before you got to where you wanted to be, that it was like trying to find the cheese at the end of the maze. That is now a thing of the past, as you can now go to one page and do it all. I, for one, am happy with that, and give Facebook another check mark for it.

All these changes to Facebook’s privacy controls come after consultations held with U.S. Senator, Charles Schumer, as well as many privacy and consumer advocate groups. It finally seems that Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have heard the cries of the people, and are actually doing something about it. While they are still in the roll out stage, you can expect your Facebook to have a new look in the coming weeks.

Frankly, so far I’m satisfied with this news. I know I’m pretty hard on Facebook, but if these changes to my privacy controls actually work, and do what they say they can, then this is just the first step in redeeming the social networking site in my eyes, and in the eyes of its more than 500 million users. Now if I could just figure out those damn community pages work, I’d be happy.