Social networking software

Report: Facebook debates privacy changes

Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from the Today @ PC World blog at PCWorld.com.

Facebook is reportedly undergoing internal struggles as the company debates concerns raised over user privacy, and the social network may revamp its user privacy settings in the coming days.

Ever since Facebook introduced new sharing features in April during the company’s F8 developers conference, the company has received criticism over its privacy policies from critics, lawmakers, interest groups and regular users. Looking to address its critics, company executives and employees have been involved in marathon debate sessions to figure out what to do about user privacy on Facebook, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook’s privacy maze

The biggest issue up for debate at Facebook HQ, according to the Journal, is what to do about the social network’s labyrinthine privacy system that many users have found confusing. The New York Times reported earlier this month that you need to navigate through 50 settings and more than 170 options to completely manage your privacy on Facebook.

Some inside Facebook are reportedly proposing simplified controls that would make it easier for users to maintain their privacy, according to the Journal, while others argue for the more granular controls Facebook currently offers.

Public statements, private dissent

While Facebook reportedly debates in private about how best to deal with user privacy settings, Facebook executives have been telling a different story in public. Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of global communications, marketing, and public policy, recently wrote in The New York Times that Facebook would “work to make Facebook’s privacy settings easier and simpler.”

Then on Tuesday, Tim Sparapani, Facebook’s public policy director said on a local Washington D.C. radio show that Facebook was “going to be providing options for users who want simplistic bands of privacy that they can choose from,” as first reported by Wired. Sparapani said changes to privacy settings would be coming in the next couple of weeks.

While Facebook reportedly debates what to do about user privacy, people outside of Facebook continue to direct criticism at the social network. Sites like openbook and zesty.ca provide tools for people to see just how open the profiles of most Facebook users are. Meanwhile close to 6,000 people at the time of this writing have committed to leave Facebook on May 31, according to QuitFacebookDay.org.

Facebook currently has over 400 million users worldwide, and will reportedly reach 500 million users by June.

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