Facebook Employees Debate Privacy Changes, “Simplified” Tools Coming

Following public criticism over a number of recent privacy changes, Facebook executives and employees have been “hunkered down” at its Palo Alto headquarters lately, according to the Wall Street Journal.

And yesterday, some results of those discussions appear to be coming out. “Now we’ve heard from our users that we have gotten a little bit complex,” Facebook’s director of public policy, Tim Sparapani, during a radio show interview, below. “I think we are going to work on that. We are going to be providing options for users who want simplistic bands of privacy that they can choose from and I think we will see that in the next couple of weeks.”

Facebook’s internal debates have included the idea of offering ways for users to conceal their profiles “more universally,” according to the report. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has “resisted” changing from the granular, and recently-modified controls it has now. Another reportedly discussed possibility was changing the default settings of the site to be more private like they were previously.

“We have built a privacy setting for every new type of sharing [users] are allowed to have,” Sparapani said yesterday. “What that means is that in fact we have come up with an extraordinary number of privacy settings.”

The company is in the difficult position of trying to make the product more open so it can provide more value to users, third parties and its own business, while also  meeting some users’ wishes for a more private system. Recently it has erred on the side of becoming more open, but the discussions suggest it is so concerned about the reactions that it is considering a deeper shift to be more conservative about privacy. We’ll see if the “simplifed” settings include more private options.