Facebook recently announced new privacy adjustments that are sure to calm the fears of many of the site's critics.
In addition to making privacy controls easier to locate, the update takes a significant step forward toward resolving a highly debated privacy issue – who can and cannot see the information being posted. In a recent blog post, Facebook's Chris Cox explained that the privacy changes "will make it easier to understand who can see your stuff (or your friends') in any context."
"Your profile should feel like your home on the web – you should never feel like stuff appears there that you don't want, and you should never wonder who sees what's there," Cox wrote. "The profile is getting some new tools that give you clearer, more consistent controls over how photos and posts get added to it, and who can see everything that lives there."
The updates mirror features that have differentiated Google's new social network, Google+, from Facebook. Google's Circles satisfied a common demand among Facebook users who were apprehensive to use the site freely out of fear that some information would fall into the wrong hands.
Greater accessibility and ease of use for privacy controls is an important step forward for Facebook. On a global scale, the social network has been criticized by Internet security and privacy experts and pressured by government leaders over the privacy measures afforded to its users.
Just last week the Data Protection Commissioner's Office for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein called for a widespread abandonment of Facebook by the state's businesses, claiming that research on the site's Like button and fan pages showed Facebook was illegally collecting information.
"Institutions must be aware that they cannot shift their responsibility for data privacy upon the enterprise Facebook, which does not have an establishment in Germany, and also not upon the users," Thilo Weichert, head of the state's Independent Center for Privacy Protection, said in the Data Protection Commissioner's Office announcement.
Facebook refuted the claim and maintained that all of its data collection processes are in line with European Union regulations, according to the Associated Press.
Nevertheless, it seems the company had been working on privacy improvements all along. As the site continues to attract more users and establishes itself as a permanent staple of the Internet, the pressure to improve consumer privacy standards will only build. And in order to retain its users, Facebook will have to respond.