Facebook privacy update draws cheers, mostly jeers

By removing regional network settings, Facebook hopes to improve privacy. But some critics say that Facebook is making a mistake.

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On Tuesday, Facebook announced it would eliminate regional network controls in order to increase the privacy of its users. The rationale goes something like this: Facebook is expanding at a rapid clip, and so are the number of networks on the site.

Many users allow members of their regional network to view all the content on their profiles – a possible problem, obviously, if you live in a city as big as New York.

"The plan we've come up with is to remove regional networks completely and 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," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post. "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."

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The new privacy settings, which will be rolled out in the next couple of weeks, will reportedly combine a lot of the current controls, effectively streamlining the process.

The reaction to the changes was mixed. Zuckerberg's blog post got the thumbs up from over 21,000 users, and the comments section of the Facebook blog was filled with praise for the revamped privacy rules. But – as always – there was a good deal of complaining. (If you remember, back in October, Facebook rolled out a minor redesign of its status feed, which promptly caused thousands and thousands of Facebookers to roil themselves into a supersized frenzy.)

Over at PC World, Brennon Slattery said the Facebook privacy changes fly in the face of the original Facebook ethos. "If Facebook users became more acquainted with the power they have to protect themselves, perhaps sweeping shut-downs such as these wouldn't be necessary," Slattery wrote. "But as Facebook locks doors and tosses keys, I cannot help but feel it's headed in the opposite direction from whence it started, dismantling its very purpose, and adopting an attitude of exclusivity."

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