The Privacy Changes Facebook Needs to Make Today

This afternoon, Facebook will announce the privacy changes they've been promising over the past several weeks. And while all we know so far is that the fix involves simplified settings, here are the adjustments they'd be crazy not to make.

PC World has a pretty robust list on the subject, starting with the biggest: making sure that future changes are opt-in, not opt-out. Honestly, Facebook can have whatever privacy policy it wants. It's a private company, and people can sign up or leave as they please. But the gradual creep of privacy invasion that's gone on over the last five years has required users to opt out nearly every step of the way. So stop automatically exposing peoples' information until they figure out how to turn it off. Give them a choice.

The other major chunk revolves around how Facebook treats third parties. Not only can the third party apps you sign up for access all of your personal information, the apps that your friends sign up for can access your public info as well: hometown, Likes and Interests, etc. And there's nothing you can do about it. That's got to stop.

Then there are the other subtle touches. As one reader pointed out: while it's great that the Facebook iPhone app lets you sync contacts onto your iPhone, to do so requires that you share all of your iPhone contacts with Facebook in return. Totally unnecessary, easily fixable.

Finally, let's be cautious about this whole "simplified" approach. It's all well and good to create huge privacy settings buckets, but how they're worded and what they actually do will be tremendously important. And while Facebook's current buffet of 170 privacy options may be difficult to navigate in their current incarnation, there should still be some advanced settings that provide more specificity. This seems like a no-brainer! And hopefully will be.

We'll find out in a few hours what exactly Facebook has in store for us. If they address these concerns even halfway, that's a pretty good start. [PC World, image credit: Joy of Tech]