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MySpace Simplifies Privacy Controls

Struggling social network MySpace says it will simplify its privacy controls so users can select one privacy setting for all the information in their profile.

Struggling social network MySpace says it will simplify its privacy controls to differentiate itself from its more successful rival Facebook, which has come under fire from lawmakers and users for having privacy polices that are confusing and too complex.

MySpace on Monday said that in the coming weeks, users will have the option of choosing one privacy setting for all the information in their profile, which includes their name, interests, birthday, photos and other personal information. The settings would include making the personal information available to friends only, anyone on MySpace or anyone 18 years or older in and outside the social network.

For users already using "friends only" on portions of their profile, that setting will become the default for all information, unless changed by the user. Before the changes, MySpace users had to set separate privacy settings for each section of their profile.

MySpace is making the changes as lawmakers, users and privacy advocates turn up the heat on Facebook for making its privacy controls too complicated and too difficult to change. Criticism of the site has intensified since it announced last month major changes to the Facebook Platform.

Those changes introduced a collection of application programming interfaces, plug-ins, and semantic markup mechanisms that provided better tools for third-party sites to gain access to information published on Facebook. While users could opt-out of having their information accessed by third-party applications and Websites, critics argue that the process is confusing and too complex.

In announcing its plans, MySpace acknowledged that it was responding to the recent controversy surrounding privacy and social networks.

"We want our users to know we are planning the launch of a simplified privacy setting for our user profiles," Mike Jones, co-president of MySpace, said on the company blog. "While we’ve had these plans in the works for some time, given the recent outcry over privacy concerns in the media, we felt it was important to unveil those plans to our users now. We believe users want a simpler way to control their privacy."

MySpace, owned by News Corp., has struggled to regain members who have left the site for the more popular Facebook. In April, MySpace had 69.2 million unique U.S. users, down 2.5% from the same month last year, according to ComScore. By comparison, Facebook attracted 121.8 million unique U.S. users, an increase of 80% from a year ago.

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