In an op-ed piece published in the Washington Post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised the social networking site will offer simplified privacy control in the “coming weeks,” including an “easy way” to turn off all third-party services.
“Simply put, many of you thought our controls were too complex,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted. We just missed the mark.”
Zuckerberg’s promise comes as the social networking service is facing another firestorm of controversy over the accessibility of its users’ information. Barring privacy gaffes that expose chats and private account information—the most recent comes by way of unique user codes being sent along to advertisers—Facebook’s revamped privacy settings indeed offer a lot of granularity, but have been roundly criticized as being too complex for most people to manage meaningfully. For instance, Facebook’s privacy setting enable users to opt out of sharing personal data with other sites so they can personalize their content for particular users, but Facebook only enables users to opt out on a site-by-site basis. There’s no way for Facebook users to opt out of it entirely.
Lawmakers and regulators have been taking notice of Facebook’s struggles with privacy. Democratic senator Chuck Schumer has asked the Federal Trade Commission to regulate social networking sites and establish a set of guidelines for how they operate; legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House that would require users explicitly approve any sharing of personal information from a social networking site each and every time it happens. Government regulators in Canada and Europe are also looking into how Facebook handles personal information.