Facebook privacy now a user-controlled option

Chicago (IL) – Following a controversial site redesign which changed the user home page and brought users a more frequent Twitter-like update ability, content sharing, and better capabilities for group pages, the site has now begun allowing users to open up all or part of their profiles for all the world to see.

A new “Everyone” option included in the profile privacy settings page, one which allows users to open up their entire profile, or components such as status updates, wall posts, personal information, videos, photos, and links, to anyone (Facebook friend or otherwise). This change is part of the overhaul announced at the beginning of the month by Facebook, one intended to promote a broader use by both individuals and companies alike.

“One of the top priorities at Facebook is offering privacy controls that let you choose exactly what you share with whom. We have largely focused on enabling you to give access to your profile to people you confirmed as friends and people in your networks,” said Mark Slee, a Facebook engineer wrote on Monday in company blog post.

He also said, “While these controls remain important and a priority for us, many of you have explained that you also want to open parts of your profile to a wider audience. Starting today, you can choose to make your profile and any of your content available to everyone on Facebook.”

When a profile is open and available to everyone, it still will not be returned in Google searches or other outside search engines when they are combing for an individual’s name, or company. Instead, an individual will have to have an account and be logged in to Facebook to view a publicly open profile, providing some trace-back to the person viewing the content (and increasing Facebook’s membership).

“In the past, searching for friends you haven’t seen in a while or someone who has a common name may have been difficult. You may have only been able to see their search listing and a small thumbnail version of a photo, if that,” Slee wrote. “With this change, people can use the ‘Everyone’ option and make it easier for you to find and connect to all the people you know.”

Some users are still complaining however, stating that they’d like the “Old Facebook” to return; however at this point with all of the changes Facebook has been through I am not quite sure I can remember what an “old Facebook” was like.

Just like all of the changes in the past, this too will pass, and individuals will utilize the site as is, until it once again evolves with new changes, and more technology.

[Editor’s note: I heard a very good suggestion from an avid Facebook user the other day, one which made a lot of sense to me. She suggested that when major overhauls like this are created for a well-established site like Facebook, it should be introduced as www.facebook2.com, and the future follow-on as www.facebook3.com, etc. In that way, visitors of the old site format still go to their old www.facebook.com URL, and if you want the new functionality then use one of the new URLs. In this way, versioning of data presentation would be possible with no new maintenance going to the old site.

Some people simply liked the old presentation and options set better. So, why not offer both and see which way the market directs. If the new Facebook is better, people will flock to it. If not, then Facebook hasn’t lost anybody because the old way is still there. It’s a win-win-win. Still, there may be actual developer limitations (either technical or ability-wise) for a change as large as this which would prevent the backward compatibility. Something similar happened previously at Facebook when worm apps began surfacing due to flaws exposed when trying to keep both the old and the new.]