• 05.18.10

Facebook to Offer “Simplistic” Privacy Choices in Response to User Confusion

Facebook’s head of policy let drop in an interview that Facebook is aware of the massive labyrinthine web of privacy settings that mostly serves to confuse users, and said that in response, the company would soon offer “simplistic” (I hope he meant “simple” or “simplified”) settings.


Though it wasn’t from the mouth of the Zuck, Facebook‘s head of public policy, a man by the name of Tim Sparapani, revealed soon-to-be released plans for a simpler web of Facebook settings.


As a primer, you can check out this insane infographic of Facebook’s privacy settings, compiled by the New York Times–it’s ridiculously overwhelming, and many users simply can’t be bothered to learn all the ins and outs of such a complex system. But then, you can’t just replace such a system with a few simplified options–the advanced users would then be left out, and those who care about such things would be far more upset than the casual users would be pleased.

It looks as though Facebook is planning on a new, simpler checkbox option–Sparapani called them “simplistic” options, though (if I’m going to get all grammar-nerdy on him, which clearly I’m about to) I think and/or hope he meant “simple” or “simplified.”


“Now we’ve heard from our users that we have gotten a little bit complex,” Sparapani said in a radio interview Tuesday. “I think we are going to work on that. We are going to be providing options for users who want simplistic bands of privacy that they can choose from and I think we will see that in the next couple of weeks.”


It’s not a bad solution–the vast majority of Facebook’s near-500 million users who don’t care about such things would be offered better, if slightly automated, protection. Wired notes that it’s unlikely that users would be able to control the “publicly available information” policy, which controversially made some user info findable via search engine.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.