Technology & Science

Facebook announces new privacy settings

Social-networking site Facebook has introduced a number of new policies and settings amid growing concerns over how it uses members' private information.

Social-networking site Facebook has introduced a number of new policies and settings amid growing concerns over how it uses members' private information.

The website will allow users to completely opt out of the Facebook platform, which will block any and all third parties from viewing their data, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said at a news conference on Wednesday at Facebook's Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters. 

The option will be retroactive, he added, so users can continue to use the site but wipe any information that may have previously been shared with third parties.

Facebook will also simplify its privacy settings by allowing users to decide who sees their information all on one page.

"When people have control over what they share, they want to share more. When people share more, the world becomes more open and connected," Zuckerberg said. "Over the past few weeks, the No. 1 thing we've heard is that many users want a simpler way to control their information. Today we're starting to roll out changes that will make our controls simpler and easier."

The company said the new controls were the result of consultations held with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and a number of privacy and consumer advocate groups,

Facebook currently has more than 400 million users around the world.

Over-sharing info concerns privacy head

Canada's Office of the Privacy Commissioner has been among the most vocal critics of Facebook's privacy policy. Last year, the commissioner said some of the site's policies contravened Canadian privacy law.

"One of the biggest concerns we raised was the over-sharing of users' personal information with third-party developers who create popular Facebook applications such as games and quizzes," privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said at the time.

Her office's investigation of the social networking site found that Facebook's information about privacy was often confusing or incomplete.

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post earlier this week, Zuckerberg said the company has been listening to users' concerns over how their information is shared, and it intends to simplify its privacy settings.

"We have heard the feedback. There needs to be a simpler way to control your information. In the coming weeks, we will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use," he wrote. "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."