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May 18, 2010

Facebook responds to privacy concerns

Posted: 11:27 AM ET

In an e-mail to, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes responded to the growing rancor over the site's privacy settings and policies, which underwent some changes in April.

"With more and more people sharing content online, it’s important that Facebook and other sites provide them with clear control over what information they want to share, when they want to share it and with whom," he wrote in the e-mail. "We’re listening to feedback and evaluating the best way to respond to concerns. We understand that maintaining people’s privacy is of paramount importance, not just to them but to the eco-system of the Internet as a whole and we welcome innovative ideas in this space."

Noyes made the comment in reference to rival MySpace's decision this week to make its site more private.

Some people have deleted their Facebook accounts because of concerns over their online privacy. The online social network, which has 400 million members, allows fine-grained controls over privacy settings, but some people complain that the settings are too numerous and complicated to be useful.

And a project called Diaspora has been getting press as the privacy-minded "anti-Facebook." The project, started by four NYU students, so far has raised $180,000 through the crowd-funding site Kickstarter.

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Filed under: Facebook • privacy

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AppleNews a Day   May 18th, 2010 11:56 am ET

iCNN is slipping. Where's the Apple Story of the Day?

Mike W   May 18th, 2010 12:03 pm ET

"allows fine-grained controls over privacy settings" No it doesn't. It used to allow more control than it does now.

David Beronja   May 18th, 2010 12:39 pm ET

Facebook will go the way of MySpace is my prediction. MySpace was cluttered by graphics and trashy people. Facebook is now cluttered by a confusing amount privacy settings along with trying to be everything twitter, Flickr, etc. Facebook might not have a lot of deletions but I bet abandoned profiles numbers have jumped since the last change. I deleted pretty much everything & don't login anymore. Same as I had done with MySpace

As soon as the bell curve reaches the rest of the people about privacy Facebook will have a much bigger problem. Hopefully by then Diaspora will be up and running. I'd like Diaspora to be like WordPress a paid easy to use service for the masses & open source version for the techies.

Douglas Nz   May 18th, 2010 12:43 pm ET

For 2months I shared information that was suppose to be for some persons to the whole public and when I viewed my profile from someone's account I was shocked to see my entire wall. The privacy controls are just too much, it takes about 20minutes to do a complete setting and it cannot be properly edited on the mobile site. To make things worse new information about such issues are not available on the mobile site.

snoop0x7b   May 18th, 2010 12:45 pm ET

How about a copy of the response? Come on it's not fair for you to get a response and not share.

Nate Gallaher   May 18th, 2010 12:51 pm ET

Someone in the opensource community over at decided that enough was enough and made a browser tool that people can run to check their facebook privacy settings for possible leaks.

AppleNews a Day   May 18th, 2010 1:03 pm ET

@ Nate Gallaher
And all we have to do is provide them with our DoB, SSN and a credit Card number. Brilliant!

R. Skyler   May 18th, 2010 1:14 pm ET

People are so intent on using Facebook, they know its reputation. This story is old – years old and Facebook isn't going to change.

The above comment from "AppleNews a Day" is appropriate.

CNN's business model seems to be that it is doing so well financially that it doesn't need to sell ad space to Facebook or Apple. Just give it away.

Edyie   May 18th, 2010 1:31 pm ET

i'm very disappointed on Facebook \!

BILL COLLECTOR   May 18th, 2010 1:55 pm ET


ftbtf   May 18th, 2010 2:34 pm ET

a new oxymoron for you all "online privacy" if its online how it is private?

kat   May 18th, 2010 2:47 pm ET

"The online social network, which has 400 million members, allows fine-grained controls over privacy settings, but some people complain that the settings are too numerous and complicated to be useful."

Translation: People are too stupid or lazy to use the privacy setting options built for them. Boo hoo.

Mark Floisand   May 18th, 2010 3:00 pm ET

SaveFace™ by Untangle is a free, simple-to-install Bookmark utility that automatically resets your Facebook® back to Friends Only, to restore your privacy. Check it out

CNH   May 18th, 2010 3:22 pm ET

Lame story. Give us the dirt.

Worlds collide   May 18th, 2010 3:53 pm ET

It's all lies. Delete your Facebook account or just tattoo your social security number to your forehead ya buncha SHEEP!

V8A   May 18th, 2010 4:04 pm ET

For anyone who does not understand that you have a total free account and allowed to share information for free, you should not bother asking for special features. Facebook has given you the advantage to share data with someone accross the world. Just think about it. It is free. Go away if you want to complaint. Go to another free web based site like My Space or Friendster. They are free but give you a few viruses now and days. I am sure facebook will be the same in the future and something new will come out. For right now, complainers who do not like to use something for free, go away please.

jeff   May 18th, 2010 4:18 pm ET

I am still amazed that anyone would sign up for Facebook (or MySpace or Twitter) in the first place. What a moronic waste of good bandwidth, and then to stand there, kind of naked in the middle of a busy street, and fret over privacy, is just nuts. Was it George Clooney who said about not being on Facebook that he would rather have a rectal exam in a public street by a guy with cold hands?

anon   May 18th, 2010 4:36 pm ET

No need to fret. Telephones still work. Delete your account and actually talk to the people you consider your friends.

Justin   May 18th, 2010 4:51 pm ET

Looks like the old folks came out to comment with the old "use a telephone if you want to keep in touch with people." I also would rather use Facebook then have a rectal exam in the street like Jeff and Clooney. Its free....if you don't want to use it, don't. If you are that concerned about privacy settings....SET THEM FOR PRIVACY. Not the brightest bunch of complainers.

MacManDE   May 18th, 2010 7:08 pm ET

Facebook's main goal is to make money.....and they do that by using everyone's personal information to sell advertising.......they're data mining everyone's postings, photos, links, and information. How do you all suppose they pay they're employees ? It's not a non-profit charity. People need to realize There is NO PRIVACY ONLINE. Whatever you post on FB or ANY website can be stored & googled.

Steven Cravis   May 18th, 2010 7:29 pm ET

The answer is so simple and does not require an ounce of innovation: Reset all Facebook account defaults to be the most private and let people opt into what they want from that default.

bailoutsos   May 18th, 2010 7:33 pm ET

If anyone is STUPID enough to put personal info on the internet, then you shall suffer the "slings and arrows" that go along with that decision.

MikeP   May 18th, 2010 8:00 pm ET

"some people" deleted accounts? I thought news agencies were supposed to be beyond the use of blatant weasel-words? CNN keeps posting these attack articles aimed at facebook with no concrete facts and no references.

V   May 18th, 2010 8:03 pm ET

The author of this article is wrong. There are surface-level only privacy settings available on Facebook profiles as of today, and those are quickly eroding over time. One used to have the choice of remaining unsearchable and "unclickable" by other accounts, essentially invisible to all users not on the friends list. We had the option of opting-out of the API, which is the biggest threat to privacy. Nowadays info is shared by default, there is no opt-out of the API, certain profile categories are forcibly public info.... Search for dark-stalking on Google, and read the many articles about how easy it is to use the API to gather information on people that they have specified as "friends only". Apps do not have to be used by a particular person to present a threat- even if just one friend uses an app, that app has a significant amount of access to your profile information.

V   May 18th, 2010 8:08 pm ET

Additionally, anyone who simply suggests (such as Justin, above) that setting one's settings to the highest level of privacy is sufficient enough... is deluding themselves, completely unaware of how the user agreement on Facebook is written, and/or unaware of the separate API access to profile info.

The privacy settings USED to be totally sufficient. However, they were changed without prior warning several times and now even the strictest levels are partially public to the web and almost fully public to the API.

The usefulness of social networking cannot and should not be underestimated by the "why would you use that type of site to begin with" crowd. On the other side of the coin, the apathetic ignorance of people who blindly post anything and everything in their lives to a public facing website are going to regret it later, even if they think Zuckerberg and Facebook have any level of respect for user privacy.

Mohammad   May 18th, 2010 10:09 pm ET

Just deleted mine! You never know who will be using your information against you. Thier settings are too confusing and on top of that they change thier policies without letting users understand them completely which more feels like HIJACK OF PRIVACY!

Locke   May 19th, 2010 12:30 am ET

... meh

Rick Rockhill   May 19th, 2010 7:57 am ET

I just deleted my Face Book account because they are still up to their same antics, the privacy isn't any better. Things still get auto-posted, shared and our personal information is being sold, we're just like cattle to them. I used to be a big fan and now I find it scary, invasive and just wrong.

psk   May 19th, 2010 8:41 am ET

NOW they want me to "register my computer"? Sorry- that was the icing on my piece of moldy FB cake. The only thing that irks the heck out of me, is that I have to REGISTER my computer in order to delete my account. By the way- what's up with the 14 day waiting period to complete an account deletion? Is that the amount of time it takes FB to sell off all of my info? Sick of the antics & signing off for good.

Josh from Kzoo   May 19th, 2010 9:50 am ET

Seriously, the crying over the Facebook privacy settings needs to stop. If you don't want people to see the information that's on your profile, then I ask you a simple question: Why did you post it there? Stop being a bunch of nimrods and think for a second. If you don't want the information to be seen then don't post it. It's as simple as that. Still want to get your thoughts out? Use a journal. You know, paper and pen? Quit whining already!!

1315horn   May 19th, 2010 10:41 am ET is a new social network that is safe and flexible. You can create several neighborhoods. One can be completely hidden and you invite only those people in it like an office or club. Still another neighbothood can be semi-public and yet another is completely public like national organizations.

Robert Johnson   May 19th, 2010 11:42 am ET

Still can't protect your information from Facebook itself selling it to the highest bidder.

Steven   May 19th, 2010 12:43 pm ET

For those ppl like "Josh from koso" who say not to post anything on facebook... what is facebook for then!? I should be able to post stuff that only my friends see (and have some guarantees no one else will ever see it). Friends in my profile know me, know my sense of humour, understand when I'm having fun trolling or whatever.. that kind of information should not be available to the general public who will misinterpret what I write and show. As it stands, ya, I no longer post anything unless it is safe for everyone to read... but I ask again, what's the point of facebook then!?

Josh from Kzoo   May 19th, 2010 1:12 pm ET

Well, since I'm now from Koso I guess I don't know what I'm talking about. It's a "Public Site" and when you post information on a "Public Site", guess what the information is? Public! Another thing that I have to laugh at is all the people complaining that it's hard to figure out how to change the privacy settings so that your posts are actually private. It's only hard if you aren't educated enough to read the words on your computer screen. As others have said, if you don't like Facebook, don't use it. I personally like it and I like the ease it affords me to contact everyone. I stand by what I say. Don't like it? You have every right to complain, just do your homework before you lash out at the website you so love to "Troll".

Chris   May 19th, 2010 2:45 pm ET

Define "Public Site". Would my gmail account be concidered public? When you set up something to be a network of just your friends and originally are told only those you allow can see this information, when later these controls start eroding, and are made ever more complex (and hidden) to control and contain, is that "stupid users"? No this is a company shooting itself in the foot, losing sight of why people liked and used it in the first place. Either they will rectify the situation so that people feel what they wish to tell just friends remains just that, or onto the myspace pile.

Dale   May 19th, 2010 3:03 pm ET

I agree with those that predict Facebook will go the way of MySpace. It's not just the privacy issues. It's the ads, the endless emails from the FB system suggesting you like this, friend this person, become a fan of this or a member of that. I'm deleting my account. Also agree that if someone does come along with a clean, uncluttered, open-source alternative, they'll make exactly 1 billion zillion dollars.

Laura   May 19th, 2010 3:05 pm ET

The facebook privacy settings are just fine. If you find it too complicated" then get a "for dummies" book.

The only thing I would like to control again are people viewing my friends. Everything else is self explanitory.

Josh from Kzoo   May 19th, 2010 3:49 pm ET

@Chris Gmail and Facebook are 2 entirely different types of website so no, your Gmail account is not considered public.

@Laura Agreed. It's not complicated at all to change the privacy settings. I personally don't mind people being able to see my friends. Most likely if they are trolling my friend list then I'll probably be expecting a friend request from them the next time I log on.

Joe   May 19th, 2010 9:35 pm ET

If you want privacy, you should not be on a social networking site, or even the internet at all!

usman   May 20th, 2010 3:29 am ET

well i have serious concerns about facebook reaction on freedom of expressions. It should not allow individuals to perform or share any information that is distructive and offensive to any religion or faith...

Barnacle Bill   May 20th, 2010 6:10 am ET

I was looking at an article on CNN about FB privacy. I wasn't logged onto FB. So why did CNN know my name and have my FB picture displayed? ???This is Privacy???

Ken   May 20th, 2010 9:26 am ET

There is no point in switching to anything new, eventually they will all end up pulling the same tricks to make their site more lucrative. Sadly I enjoy catching up with long lost friends on facebook, but if the lack of privacy protection continues to decline i will be forced to delete it for fear of id theft and the like.........

lardbucket   May 21st, 2010 1:10 am ET

"I am the Lizard Queen!", at least I am on facebook.

Al   May 25th, 2010 10:56 pm ET

Facebook+Diaspora can make us happy – you can choose decentralized web and centralized web. Both models are valid.
Like Catholic centralized system vs Protestant or Judaism systems.
They are good for some people and bad for the others – that's how you feel

Shoshana Calame   January 10th, 2011 2:24 pm ET

I'm not able to view this web site properly on saffari I feel there is a problem

tonsil stones cure   February 6th, 2011 10:56 am ET

I'm not in a position to view this web site correctly on firefox I feel there's a downside

Zack Kingore   February 8th, 2011 2:52 pm ET

Hi there! You some kind of professional? Nice message. Are you able to inform me tips on how to subscribe your weblog?

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