Facebook Launching Privacy Controls and Instant Messaging

Caroline McCarthy has posted about new Facebook privacy features that are being rolled out later tonight or tomorrow morning as well as initial screenshots of the rumored instant messaging service. The new privacy features will enable users to have granular settings on a per-friend basis. When users confirm a pending friend request they will be prompted to set the privacy settings for the new friend.

At South by Southwest last week, Mark Zuckerberg emphasized the importance of granular privacy settings when building a copy of the social graph. As Matt Cohler, Vice President of Strategy and Business Operations at Facebook emphasized, “Tools have to be powerful for giving granular control, but on the other hand you have to make sure they are easy to use and simple and intuitive.” The last thing Facebook wants to do is over-complicate things.

In addition to showing off the new privacy features at the Facebook press event, they also showed off Facebook’s new chat service. The chat displays your status, whether or not you are online, which of your friends are online and what current conversations are taking place. Dan Farber of CNET News.com posted the image to the left of the new Facebook IM service. While this new IM is not as robust as Social.IM or Digsby, both desktop competitors, this is a serious blow to the many instant messaging applications currently on the platform.

Over the past few days we have witnessed Facebook take strikes against applications that have heavily invested in building on the Facebook platform. The launch of their new IM service will surely create an uproar among those developers that have build chat applications on the platform. Facebook has even offered a chat category for applications that currently contains almost 1200 applications. Those developers will surely not be happy.