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Looks like Facebook put their cavalier attitude to bed. After getting flamed left and right for the last change to their privacy policy, the social network's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, used the Washington Post  to announce an upcoming, simpler approach. 

Missing the Mark 

Let's get straight to the changes. After admitting that Facebook simply moved too fast this time, Zuckerberg summed up the company's intentions for the new policy like so: 

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. 

As a response to all those worried that too much of their personal data is being exposed to the public (though there are already controls to change that), Zuckerberg added that tools for limiting information visibility even further are in the works. 

Facebook's Not Sorry

It's probably worth it to note that this was not meant to come off as an apology for the way Facebook operates, or the direction it's moving in. Zuckerberg maintained his belief in the benefits of an open Web, stating "a world that's more open and connected is a better world." Rather, this announcement was more of a head nod toward the challenges that come with keeping 400 million people happy all at the same time. 

To make things ultra clear, he also restated Facebook's principles of operation:

  • You have control over how your information is shared
  • We do not share your personal information with people or services you don't want
  • We do not give advertisers access to your personal information
  • We do not and never will sell any of your information to anyone
  • We will always keep Facebook a free service for everyone

"Facebook has evolved from a simple dorm-room project to a global social network connecting millions of people," Zuckerberg said in closing. "We will keep building, we will keep listening and we will continue to have a dialogue with everyone who cares enough about Facebook to share their ideas. And we will keep focused on achieving our mission of giving people the power to share and making the world more open and connected.

MySpace's Crapshoot

Is it enough to put Facebook back it the clear? Considering the number of people that have grown to love the service, it's highly likely. Then again, Facebook is kind of notorious for sticking to their guns and freaking people out. What happens when the platform makes another move to be more open (as it almost certainly will)? Will there be another uprising, or will it be the audience that concedes next time? 

According to social media specialist Danah Boyd, we're nowhere near the latter. "People still care about privacy because they care about control," she explained. "Sure, many teens repeatedly tell me 'public by default, private when necessary' but this doesn't suggest that privacy is declining; it suggests that publicity has value and, more importantly, that folks are very conscious about when something is private and want it to remain so."

Jumping at this moment of weakness, MySpace took the tiny window of opportunity to simplify their own privacy settings as well as empathize with frustrated Facebook users. Shortly thereafter, the Wall Street Journal reported that both Facebook and MySpace were guilty of leaking personal user data to advertising companies. 

Unsurprisingly, the number of people that have pledged to leave Facebook  at the end of the month has risen from 4 thousand to 15 thousand in just a week. It's still not enough to make a dent, and we don't think they'll be moving over to MySpace's territory, but it'll be interesting to see how things unfold on the 31st..