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Facebook update: For users, more control

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says changes to the site will give Facebook users more control of private information.

By Matthew Shaer / October 7, 2010

Facebook users will soon have improved access to personal data, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday.

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Facebook will again update its interface to give users more control over the information they share with friends and acquaintances. That's the news Wednesday from a live Facebook press event, where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seemed to acknowledge that users still had concerns with the Facebook interface. In response, Zuckerberg said, Facebook would introduce a new version of the Groups functionality, along with an upgraded dashboard.

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From now on, the default setting for Groups will be "closed," which means only your fellow members see what's going on in a group, Zuckerberg said. In addition, Facebook will now allow users to download every bit of information they have ever posted to Facebook – a move intended to give consumers control over data stored on the Facebook servers.

"We've heard loud and clear that you want more control over what you share on Facebook – to manage exactly who sees it and to understand exactly where it goes," Zuckerberg wrote on the Facebook blog this afternoon. "With this new Groups experience and the other tools we're rolling out Wednesday, we're taking a few important steps forward towards giving you precise controls."

Zuckerberg said that over the next few days, users would see a new privacy dashboard, allowing them to get "a single view of all the applications [they've] authorized and what data they use."

It's been a turbulent year for Facebook, which has struggled to balance soaring growth with the privacy of its users. The site was repeatedly slammed for its "open graph" proposal, which effectively extends the reach of Facebook far beyond the bounds of Facebook.com. This spring, the Article 29 Working Party, a group of European data protection authorities, called Facebook's security policy legally "unacceptable."

In response to the criticism, Facebook announced that it would consolidate most of its security settings onto a handful of dashboards, making it easier for users to control how much content – including wall posts, "likes," and photographs – was visible to the public. "The number-one thing we've heard is that there just needs to be a simpler way to control your information," Zuckerberg noted at the time.

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