FaceBook plans to step up privacy controls

FaceBook users can expect a growing number of controls to protect personal information posted on the social networking site amid increased concerns about...

FaceBook users can expect a growing number of controls to protect personal information posted on the social networking site amid increased concerns about privacy.

In recent weeks FaceBook has been hit by a series of malicious applications aimed at stealing user information.

Users were outraged when FaceBook laid claim to all rights in perpetuity to material posted on the site in new terms and conditions, forcing an almost immediate reversal of the decision.

But the site now plans to introduce more user controls over who can view personal information, Chris Kelly, chief privacy officer at FaceBook, told the eCrime Congress 2009 in London.

"Users' top concern is lack of control of information online, so FaceBook will continue to add layers of control over who can see what," Chris Kelly said.

The planned controls include the ability for users to put contacts into different groups and allow only certain groups to access specific information item by item.

FaceBook should be viewed mainly as a technology company that has always tried to promote a culture of control over information, said Kelly,

The company built in technical controls from the start to authenticate users and enable them to share information only with approved contacts.

FaceBook puts its number of users at around 175 million, but less than 0.1% of those profiles are available to the average user, said Kelly.

The planned privacy enhancements extend these original privacy controls based on the principle that users should be able to limit the exposure of personal information to others, he said.

According to Kelly, FaceBook has also devoted extensive resources into automated security measures to protect users from unauthorised access to information and physical harm.

"FaceBook has put technology in place to enforce rules around minors so their information is not available to over-18s as a general rule," he said.

The site protects users by enabling them to report abuses such as fake profiles and offensive behaviour. Reports are followed up by an investigation team within 24 hours, said Kelly.

FaceBook's user operations and investigation team deal with hundreds of thousands of user contacts a week, feeding information back into automated controls to make them more effective, he said.

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Facebook overhaul marred by user security slip >>

Facebook faces privacy probe by ICO >>

Facebook in hot water with UK information commissioner >>

Crying wolf on Facebook security

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