Facebook.com, the number-two social networking site in the United States behind MySpace.com, plans to add a new privacy option to its webpages that will enable people to control what information is made available to other users via new features added to the site on Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The changes involved the addition of a “news feed” and a “mini feed,” which made it simpler for Facebook users to find information about other users’ relationship status and political preferences. The modifications were met with the protests of hundreds of thousands of unhappy users who weren’t pleased that their personal information was more readily available on the site. By Wednesday night, some half a million Facebook users signed a petition requesting the removal of the news feed feature, which also notifies users any time a friend modifies their page.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook will add the new privacy option in response to the massive wave of negative user feedback it received, according to the Journal, and it will allow Facebook users to decide which personal information is made available via the new feeds. Users will now be able to edit out any information about their relationship status, but if they elect to keep their political preferences available, other users will still be able to access that information, the Journal reports. The site also wants to soon allow its users to block all personal information from being displayed via the recently added feeds, according to the Journal.
Facebook spokeswoman Melanie Deitch said the modifications sparked the largest quantity of negative feedback the site has ever received in response to features being added, and the incident taught the firm to vet new additions with users before going live on the entire site, the Journal reports.
“This was a big shock for people,” Deitch said, according to the Journal. “It’s like waking up in the morning and realizing there’s a big change to how your e-mail works.”
Facebook currently boasts roughly 9.5 million users, many of whom are—or were recently—college students, due to the fact that until this year it allowed only people with “.edu” e-mail addresses to register for membership.
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