Saturday, May 22, 2010

Facebook to simplify privacy settings

Responding to complaints, the social networking site plans to make it easier for users to opt out of some, though not all, data-sharing features.

Facing growing protests over its handling of users' personal information, Facebook plans to make changes to the privacy settings available on the world's largest social networking website. But the steps, to be unveiled as early as next week, may not go as far as critics would like.

Lawmakers, regulators, privacy watchdogs and some Facebook users have unleashed a storm of criticism of the Internet company since it launched a program that shares user data with three third-party websites. A number of U.S. senators have called on Facebook to allow users to opt out of that program, which Facebook calls instant personalization.

The 6-year-old private company also has been assailed for technical glitches and loopholes that have exposed some personal data to third parties.

Facebook said Friday that it would simplify its privacy choices in response to complaints that the settings were confusing to navigate. It's expected that Facebook will offer users an easier way to dictate whether their information is shared with their friends only, with a broader group or with everyone.

But the company doesn't intend to end the instant personalization program, two people familiar with the plan said. They also said Facebook didn't plan to get explicit consent from its nearly 500 million users before adding new features.

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