In case you missed it, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote an op-ed piece in Monday's Washington Post admitting that the company has made mistakes when it comes to user privacy. He also promised that new, simpler privacy settings for the social networking service are on their way. He wrote, in part:
The biggest message we have heard recently is that people want easier control over their information... Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls... We just missed the mark.
He goes on to explain that the new controls will be much easier to use and will give users more control over who sees which parts of their information. They will also include "an easy way to turn off third-party services."
Zuckerberg then sets out the following principles by which Facebook operates:
Though the last one doesn't particularly pertain to privacy, I'm sure it comforts those whose status updates of late have declared that they will quit Facebook the moment it costs anything. However, I'm not sure those status updates did much to motivate the company to make the changes Zuckerberg mentions.
In my opinion, the coming changes and the mea culpa result from the combination of several things. Mounting pressure from regulators worldwide, the sudden surge in startups like Diaspora that are particularly focused on privacy, and the thousands who have signed up at QuitFacebookDay.com and sites like it are just a few.
I can't wait to see what the new privacy controls actually look like, not to mention how the user base responds to them.