Facebook to simplify privacy settings Wednesday

After user anger over privacy issues, social network preps new tools

One day after Facebook's CEO admitted that the company had made mistakes with users' privacy, the social networking site confirmed it will roll out new, simplified privacy controls on Wednesday.

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said today that the new privacy tools are designed to make it easier for users to specify who can see their information, as well as whether Facebook can share the information with other Web sites.

Noyes wouldn't give any specifics on the tools being unveiled.

In a column published Monday in the Washington Post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company has made mistakes in its continuing push to further enable social connections, and that Facebook hoped to soon introduce new, easier-to-use privacy settings to help users make sure their personal information isn't shared with third-party Web sites.

"Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted," Zuckerberg wrote. "We just missed the mark. In the coming weeks, we will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use. We will also give you an easy way to turn off all third-party services. We are working hard to make these changes available as soon as possible."

In the past month, there has been growing user unrest and anger that Facebook is playing too fast and loose with information about its users. Users also have been frustrated over what they call complicated and confusing privacy controls that they need to navigate to protect their personal data.

In April, Facebook unveiled a bevy of tools aimed at extending its reach by letting user information be shared with other Web sites.

That move caused an uprising among users and prompted U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to write an open letter urging the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to set up privacy guidelines for all social networking sites, including Facebook and rivals Twitter and MySpace.

That led to a meeting between Facebook executives and members of Schumer's staff.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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