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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addresses reporters at a news conference at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California May 26, 2010. (ROBERT GALBRAITH/REUTERS)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addresses reporters at a news conference at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California May 26, 2010. (ROBERT GALBRAITH/REUTERS)

Facebook announces privacy changes Add to ...

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg thinks he's finally found a solution to the site's privacy woes.

On Wednesday, Zuckerberg announced modifications that will allow Facebook users to choose whether to share information with friends only, with friends of friends, or with everyone.

The settings will work retroactively with previous posts.

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"Now we feel like we have the privacy model that's going to help us scale the service to millions and millions of more people and this is the end of the overhaul that we're doing," Zuckerberg said during a conference call.



Users can also access advanced settings to further customize exactly what is shared and how widely.

The site's engineers have tinkered with privacy settings over the last several months, sparking a backlash from users.

Zuckerberg defended those changes, blaming the uproar on poor communication by Facebook.

He conceded that the implementation made it too confusing and cumbersome for some users to guard their personal information.

Zuckerberg also said he took user complaints to heart.

"We really think about the trust issues - I do think about it. It seems like a lot of people right now are upset with us over these changes and I take that really seriously," he said.

"We're not doing a good job of serving all these people in the way that we want to and when you have more than 400 million users you're going to have users who don't like what you do and do like what you do.

"But we always want to serve everyone as best as possible."

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Zuckerberg also recorded a video (registration req) for the public, detailing some of the changes and thanking users for their feedback.

Despite the recent privacy-related complaints, he insisted that Facebook users want to broadly share stories, photos and videos.

"The kernel of what we do is that people want to stay connected and share with the people around them and the best way to do that is by giving people control," he said.

"There are some models and some views of the world which are that all information should be kept as private as possible and that's not what users have told us that they want, because they love sharing information.

"I think there's a balance, and more and more people want to share information as long as they have good controls over that. I think that's really where the world is going."

Some users may already see the new settings online, although it may take a few days or a week for others to see the changes.

Zuckerberg says there will also be a link on the homepage of Facebook user profiles to more information on how to control their privacy settings.

New changes also allow users to stop applications from accessing their personal information. And by default, less private information is now visible on user profiles.



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Zuckerberg said it still makes sense for some profile information to be visible by everyone - such as a user's name, profile picture, gender and networks - so they can be found by friends and family in searches.

Facebook says it has more than 400 million users worldwide, including a large base of Canadians.

Canada's privacy commissioner has repeatedly expressed concerns about Facebook's policies and in January announced another investigation into the website's practices.

Zuckerberg said he hopes the current changes will mean the site is finished tinkering with its privacy section for the foreseeable future.

"From here, I think one of the take aways is: don't mess with the privacy stuff for a long time," he said.

"We hopefully have a system that's going to scale and work with the userbase as it grows to however big it can get."

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