Facebook's new privacy policy claims more consumer control....really?

With all of the talk about privacy this week –the FTC roundtables, Yahoo's “ad interest manager” tool and the IAB's consumer education campaignFacebook's privacy updates seem to be the most confusing. Obviously looking to open it up and make their site more searchable in the social search indexing that was finally launched on Google and Bing this week, it seems like while they claim to be giving consumers more control, that they are doing a disservice, as the language and new tools are very confusing.  

The site updated their privacy policy on November 19, but then added an extra clause to the privacy policy was slipped in yesterday. “Certain categories of information such as your name, profile photo, list of friends and pages you are a fan of, gender, geographic region, and networks you belong to are considered publicly available to everyone, including Facebook-enhanced applications, and therefore do not have privacy settings. You can, however, limit the ability of others to find this information through search using your search privacy settings,” read the terms of service update. As I understand this, you have been able to do this all along, but now do you have to reset everything? Apparently, Facebook is now publishing all of a user's friends in a search according to the blogosphere.

While Facebook is seemingly transparent in admitting things like, “Facebook is a free service supported primarily by advertising. We will not share your information with advertisers without your consent. We allow advertisers to select characteristics of users they want to show their advertisements to and we use the information we have collected to serve those advertisements,” I think it does them a disservice to make this transition into a new privacy policy so clunky and awkward, and it doesn't the online ad indstrie's push in Washington for more self regulation through transparency. 

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