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Facebook's Upcoming Privacy Changes: What to Know

By C.G. Lynch
July 7, 2009 04:10 PM ET

CIO - In the next few weeks, Facebook will be rolling out significant privacy changes to the site that will make it easier to share information with people outside your immediate network - making the site more public in nature, like Twitter.

In addition, Facebook's new changes will allow you to decide who you share information with on a post-by-post basis, alleviating the need to tamper with the site's privacy controls as frequently.

Here's what to expect from the new settings (in detail), and how they differ from the current system.

What Facebook Privacy Looks Like Now

Under the current privacy settings, you must visit the privacy console on Facebook. (And if you haven't done so yet, we have a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to set your Facebook settings properly). In general, the privacy tools let you select who is allowed to view certain pieces of your Facebook content, including wall posts, pictures and links (among others).

The options include "everyone" on Facebook, "your friends," "friends of friends," or "custom." The latter feature allows you to control privacy in the most granular fashion. You could say you want to share pictures, for instance, with everyone except certain friends, or groups of friends, that you select.

In order to select a group of friends that you'd like to exclude, you must first create a Friend List. In our tips for sorting through the noise on Facebook, we show you how to create a Friend List.

While Facebook and much of the media covering the company has deemed these privacy settings "complex," I've never found them to be terribly difficult to use.

But the current settings do have one notable drawback: They force you to make blanket decisions about what types of content you share with with certain friends, rather than doing it judiciously on a case-by-case basis as you post.

For instance, let's say you arrive at the conclusion that you do not want to share pictures with a Friend List comprised of your co-workers because, in general, the photos you upload to Facebook are personal in nature. Under the current settings, you would click the "custom" option to exclude them.

But maybe, on occasion, you want to share a slideshow with them (say, for example, after your trip to a conference). In order to share it, you would have to revisit the privacy page to give them access to your pictures. Once you feel they've had a chance to see the album in question, you would have to revisit the privacy settings page again to block access to your future pictures. It makes for quite a process.

This story is reprinted from, an online resource for information executives. Story Copyright CXO Media Inc., 2012. All rights reserved.
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