Facebook's move to simplify and create more granular controls was met with skepticism by industry analysts, who believe the social network wants to get users' profile data on the broader Web to be indexed by search engines from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Ideally, Web advertising opportunities would follow, but Facebook isn't going down that road yet.
Facebook July 1 ushered in new rules
designed to make user privacy more fine grained and less
confusing, but analysts and bloggers see the move as an effort to generate more
advertising revenue and fend off feisty Twitter.
The leading social network is collapsing several privacy
pages and roughly 40 settings onto one page and plans to standardize the
options for each setting so the choices are identical. Users will be able to designate
whom they want to see what in their profile and can change those settings for
each piece of content they post. To see a full presentation about the changes,
see this slide show
In short, Facebook is offering more control. Facebook in March
began offering an "Everyone" option to let users share more broadly
if they so chose. Last week, the company triggered its Publisher Privacy
Control beta, which lets users decide who can see the content they publish on a
"For example, you may want to make some posts
available to everyone, while restricting others to your friends and
family," Facebook Chief
Privacy Officer Chris Kelly said
. "You should be able to make that
decision every time you share something on Facebook, and soon you'll be able to
Facebook would prefer users to select the
"everyone" option to make their updates and information open to the
world wide Web. Why does Facebook want to do this? After all, the social
network has thrived by keeping data on its 200 million-plus users safely housed
within the network, preventing it from being indexed by search engines from Google,
Yahoo and Microsoft.
Facebook Product Manager Leah Pearlman told reporters and
bloggers on a conference call that Facebook wants people to share more
information publicly because it is hard for people to tell the difference
between users with similar names when looking for their friends. ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick noted
that this is not a credible answer.
experts claim that by opening user data to the broader Web, Facebook will kick
open the door to greater advertising exposure for its partners, which means
more revenues for the company.