The company said on Thursday that the status
updates that new users post will now be viewable only to friends
by default, instead of being viewable to the general public as
it had previously been. Facebook users will continue to be able
to customize their settings so that status updates can be seen
by as big or small an audience as they want.
The change to the default setting, which Facebook quietly
implemented a few weeks ago, is the result of feedback from
users, Mike Nowak, a Facebook product manager, said in an
interview with Reuters.
"Sometimes people have felt that they've been unpleasantly
surprised that their information was more public than they
expected or intended," he said. "The feedback that we received
is that oversharing is worse than undersharing."
The move reflects a changing approach by Facebook in how it
handles the information that people share on its social network
of 1.28 billion users.
In 2009, Facebook introduced a feature that allowed users to
share posts beyond their circles of friends. When new users
signed up for Facebook, their status updates were automatically
broadcast to the general public unless users manually altered
Thursday's reversal comes as many Internet users appear
interested in limiting who sees their online activities. Mobile
messaging and social networking apps such as Snapchat and
Whisper offer anonymity features that have become popular with
many users. In February, Facebook announced plans to acquire
WhatsApp, a private messaging app, for $19 billion.
Facebook said on Thursday that it will now display a pop-up
message informing new users of the option to publish the message
more broadly if they wish.
Facebook will also begin showing all of its users a new "privacy
checkup" feature that walks through certain privacy settings,
such as who can see personal profile information and which
third-party apps users are connected to.
(This story has been refiled to fix typo in paragraph 4)
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by David Gregorio)
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