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12/3/2009
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Facebook Revamp Draws Mixed Reactions

Social networking site's privacy push met with kudos, criticisms.

It seems users either love or hate the privacy changes that Facebook is implementing.

"All the new changes suck," said user Randy, posting on the blog AllFacebook. "Why can't they leave well enough alone. They've got the number one social site and then they gotta go muck it," said Randy.

His thoughts were countered by a user named Dave, who took a more positive view of Facebook's privacy revamp. "Previous options were too complex," said Dave.

Other reactions to the changes were similarly mixed.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday that the site is implementing a number of changes to its privacy settings in an effort to make it easier for members to control who sees their information.

"Our work to improve privacy continues today," said Zuckerberg, in an open letter to the social networking site's 350 million users.

The biggest change is that Facebook is eliminating regional networks—user groups that allow members within a given geographical region to automatically share content with other network members. Facebook operates such networks around the world, including far-flung areas like India and China.

But Zuckerberg said the regional networks are becoming too large to ensure members' privacy. "As Facebook has grown, some of these regional networks now have millions of members and we've concluded that this is no longer the best way for you to control your privacy," wrote Zuckerberg.

"Almost 50 percent of all Facebook users are members of regional networks, so this is an important issue for us. If we can build a better system, then more than 100 million people will have even more control over their information," he said.

After mulling a number of possible changes, Zuckerberg said Facebook has decided "to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone."

Facebook is also adding tools that will allow users to control who sees each individual piece of content they upload to their pages. It's also simplifying the site's privacy settings page by combining a number of settings options.

"Since this update will remove regional networks and create some new settings, in the next couple of weeks we'll ask you to review and update your privacy settings," said Zuckerberg.

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