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Facebook promises privacy settings to suit 'everyone'

And kills off regional groups

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Social network Facebook is road testing new privacy settings to replace the various privacy limits currently required for different applications and content.

Users will be offered a transition tool to help them move their settings across to a new page.

Chris Kelly, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said the company had previously added privacy settings onto new features as they were introduced which led to a confusing and complicated process if a user wished to change settings.

Kelly said the tool was designed to preserve previous privacy settings and that Facebook would not be changing the information it shares with advertisers.

There are six different versions of the transition tool which are currently being tested. Over the next few weeks Facebook will see what feedback it gets from its guinea pigs before rolling it more widely.

The company is obviously keen to avoid a repeat of the disastrous Beacon project.

Kelly said the regional networks would be killed off because they had outgrown their usefulness as the network grew in size. He said the groups were too large and did not allow people to specify accurately enough who they wish to share information with.

In future you will be able to limit access to specified lists of friends or family. Or: "To share with more people and contribute to the general conversation going on in the world, you can select 'Everyone'."

Facebook is pushed in two directions - its users' desire for privacy, at whatever level, versus its need to make money from the content and connections its users provide. The more data available for everyone the more page impressions Facebook gets, and the more money it can extract from advertisers and marketeers. And the more people clicking the "Everyone" button the more it can mimic the likes of Twitter.

Kelly's blog post is here.

The move to improve privacy also comes as regulators in Europe are considering wide-ranging changes to data protection law to ensure that users of social networking sites are adequately protected. ®

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