Facebook Promises to Simplify Privacy Settings

Facebook plans to simplify its privacy settings in the coming weeks. Rival social networking site MySpace made a similar announcement earlier. According to Facebook, the move is in response to user concerns that its privacy controls are too complex.

The recent outcry about user privacy has prompted Facebook to announce plans to simplify its settings in the coming weeks.

The plans were made public by Tim Sparapani, Facebook's director of public policy, during a radio interview (listen here at the 26:30 mark) on the Kojo Nnamdi public radio show on WAMU 88.5 FM.

"Now, we've heard from our users that we've gotten a little bit complex," Sparapani said. "I think we're going to work on that. I think we're going to be providing options for people who want simplistic bands of privacy that they can choose from, and I think we'll see that in the next couple of weeks because we do listen to our users."

The changes follow a similar move announced by MySpace May 17. Under the new policy, MySpace users can make information available to friends only, anyone on MySpace or anyone 18 or older. Those already using the friends-only option on portions of their profiles will have that setting become the default for all their information.

Sparapani did not say exactly how Facebook's controls would be streamlined. But with the social networking site increasingly under siege by critics, he defended the company's approach to privacy.

"Over our history as a company we have built a privacy setting for every new type of communication and sharing that we've allowed people to have," he said. "What that means is that in fact we have come up with an extraordinary number of privacy settings. Now, I should note that this should be compared to any other company out there where there are almost no privacy settings at all. So Facebook should be getting credit here for giving tools in the first place."