MySpace Launches Simpler Privacy Settings


MySpace privacy controls, which will be put into effect in upcoming weeks, give users the option of selecting one privacy setting for all of the information contained in their profiles, including name, birthday, interests, and images. Users will also have the option of sharing their profile information with friends on their MySpace network, any MySpace user over 18-years-old, or "everyone."

Additionally, MySpace said it plans to set the default to “friends only” for any user who previously had a page with that privacy setting, which users have the option of changing.

All in all, MySpace is likely attempting to position the No. 2 social networking site as viable alternative to social networking giant Facebook by picking up where its biggest competitor left off.

"While we’ve had these plans in the works for some time, given the recent outcry over privacy concerns in the media, we felt it was important to unveil those plans to our users now. We believe users want a simpler way to control their privacy," said Mike Jones, MySpace co-president, in a company blog post.

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In recent weeks, Facebook has been on the receiving end of a firestorm of criticism regarding its evolving privacy policies, which, among other things, have enabled users' profile information and friends' lists to be exposed on public search engines such as Google and Bing.

Recent privacy complaints specifically pertain to a new "instant personalization" feature that Facebook launched in April, which links users' interests and activities listed on their profile pages to other Websites. The move inflamed legislators, privacy right advocates and users alike who expressed that they don't know how or where their personal information was being exposed, while claiming Facebook made it difficult to update their privacy controls that would delink their profile information.

Jones also emphasized that that MySpace users have the ability to prevent their personal information from being shared with other Websites or third-party applications.

Prior to the updates, MySpace users had separate privacy options for each component of their profile, such as images, comments or friends lists.

MySpace executives said that the updates aimed to underscore the importance of privacy issues in light of growing user tensions about the security of their personal information on social networking sites. The updates also gave Facebook a not so subtle reminder that MySpace and others are watching all of its mistakes with great interest.

"We respect our users’ desires to balance sharing and privacy, and never push our users to an uncomfortable privacy position," Jones said. "That’s why we give our users control over their data, following the fundamentals of notice and choice."