Facebook says it is boosting privacy by giving users control over who sees each bit of information they put on the social-networking site, and by doing away with regional and group networks.
"We're adding something that many of you have asked for — the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload," said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in an open letter posted on the site late Tuesday. "In addition, we'll also be fulfilling a request made by many of you to make the privacy settings page simpler by combining some settings."
Facebook users will be getting notifications over the next couple of weeks to review and update their privacy settings. The new settings will allow them to customize who gets to see things like their status updates, photos and shared links.
The site, which announced on Tuesday it has hit the 350 million user mark, is also phasing out regional networks, or communities for schools, company or region. Generally, users on those networks have had more access to other users' profiles on the same network, but this will end with the new privacy controls.
"This worked well when Facebook was mostly used by students, since it made sense that a student might want to share content with their fellow students," Zuckerberg said. "However, as Facebook has grown, some of these regional networks now have millions of members and we've concluded that this is no longer the best way for you to control your privacy."
Facebook has spent much of 2009 dealing with privacy issues around the world. In August, the company said it would comply with several requests from Canada's privacy commissioner to improve users' control over the information they put on the site.