Control Yourself: Facebook's New Privacy Tools

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Cyan Bannister / TechCrunch
    Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook moved too quick with its latest changes.

    Social Networking site Facebook this morning announced it would revamp its privacy tools in face of growing criticism over the site's complexity.

    "We believe people want to share information and they are best able to do that when they have control," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

    Under the new system introduced Wednesday, when an application wants access to a user's information -- whether it is their email address, photos or videos -- it has to specifically ask for permission. But applications will still be able to access information that users decide to make public.

    The new settings would also give users the ability to control whether they show up to a third party as liking an article for example. Zuckerberg said the new system would be rolled out over the next few weeks.

    "We think this is a good model," he said.

    The young leader of the Palo Alto-based company said the company has had to adapt as its popularity has grown over the past six years and along with that has come some hiccups.

    Earlier this week Zuckerberg apologized in an open letter in the Washington Post, saying his site's privacy settings were designed to give the user "granular control" over what was shared.  "But that may not have been what many of you wanted." said Zuckerberg.  "We just missed the mark."

    Critics had said what was granular to some users was absurdly detailed to others. 

    Of deep concern to many tech-watchers is whether Facebook would use today's redesign as another opportunity to reset users' preferences.  The last time the company made a major change, it  "opted in" many settings, forcing users to go back and turn privacy restrictions back on.  The blog TechCrunch called that move "a disaster in the making."

     Zuckerberg said user feedback showed Facebook that they had moved too quickly with some of their changes.

    "We made a lot of changes at the same time....a lot of what we were trying to do just didn't get communicated very well," he said. "The main thing that we took away from this is that we need to simplify the controls."

    He also pointed out that too many controls can also make users feel uncomfortable and not share information that they otherwise would have shared.

    To make things even easier, Zuckerberg said Facebook will post an announcement titled "Controlling How You Share" at the top of users' profiles starting in the next few days. A move that Facebook has only done a few times before.