Facebook promises enhanced privacy controls to pacify enraged users

Facebook is looking to douse the fire over raging privacy concerns among furious users with new settings. Disgruntled users worldwide have been grumbling about constant changes to privacy settings that accidentally let information – personal in nature – to be shared publicly.

They are also unhappy about the fact that certain settings let information to be passed to third-party app developers and advertisers. Several high profile bloggers have chosen to shut their accounts, even as world’s leading technology blogs continue to slam the networking site over privacy aspects after recent changes.

Sample for example, the reaction of the New York-based computer programmer, Barry Hoggard. “I am sick of keeping track of my privacy settings and what boxes I have to check to protect myself. I don’t have a lot of illusions about online privacy, but Facebook has gone too far,” he has been quoted as saying in leading tech publication PCWorld on the recent privacy policy changes effected.

The privacy commissioners of countries like Australia and Canada have already announced to investigate the social network’s practices, whereas the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is bringing a complaint against it on behalf of certain privacy organizations. Center for Digital Democracy is one of the nonprofit groups, which fights for online privacy. According to its director Jeffrey Chester, keeping a handle on one’s privacy will become even tougher with the current trends.

The ongoing privacy debate has caught the popular online social network off guard, which is now desperately trying to defend itself. Sensing the fast-building negative user sentiments, the firm is working fast to fix ‘mistakes’ made on this count. The challenge for it is how to smoothly facilitate sharing and innovation, give control and choice to users, and make this whole experience easy for everyone, as well.

Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, its founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg mentions in The Washington Post: “Sometimes we move too fast – and after listening to recent concerns, we’re responding (to the feedback). Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted. We just missed the mark.

After having gathered the users’ feedback, he accepts the need for a much simpler way of controlling information. He has promised that the company will come up with privacy controls – much simpler to use – in the next few weeks. The aim is to give them an easier way to turn off any third-party service. In fact, Mr. Zuckerberg has been forced to clarify the principles Facebook follows, summed up by him as follows:

  • Users have complete control over how their data is shared. Facebook does not share personal information with services or people that users do not want.
  • The company does not provide advertisers any access to personal information. It does not and never would sell any of the information.

However, users and privacy organizations will not be mollified till the promises made by it are actually fulfilled, it seems. Facebook needs to act fast to restore its credibility by building enhanced privacy controls. This only will pacify enraged users.