Facebook digs at Google with updated privacy controls

Summary:As Google has learned a lot from Facebook's many privacy controversies, Facebook hits back with a dig or two of its own.

Facebook's new privacy controls gives users more discretion over what they share, as our resident Facebook blogger Emil Protalinski reports.

But not to be outshone by the new social network on the scene, it appears that Facebook updated its privacy controls -- not for the users themselves, but to align themselves en par with the new kid on the block -- Google+.

Although Google+ is still under heavy fire for its real-name policy, Google's privacy controls are stronger and clearer for end users --  something the search giant has clearly learned from Facebook's many controversies.

(Source: Facebook)

Some similarities exist between Facebook's new privacy controls and those in Google+.

For example, the drop-down menu of 'in-line options' to control which list of friends can see, is enormously similar to the Circles, introduced as part of Google+'s initial release.

However, Facebook Groups acts in a similar way to Circles -- a long-established mechanism for grouping together friends of similar interests and subjects.

Facebook insists that these privacy changes were being worked on over six months ago -- long before Google+ even saw the light of day.

However, I strongly suspect that Facebook and Google will continue to compete for the most privacy conscious of users -- even though Google+ has a long way to go from its 30 million compared to Facebook's spread of 750 million users.

A Facebook spokesperson denied that these changes were in response to Google+ -- according to sister site, CNET.

But it would have been wholly unwise for Google not to take at least a smidgen of heed in light of Facebook's poor privacy record.

On the other hand, some consider that Google+ is one of the more 'secure' elements in Google's wider set of services in regards to user privacy.

Most users will find that they can only control one social network at a time. It is likely that, over time, Google+ could be the dumping ground for those who have become disaffected with Facebook.

Something tells me that over the coming months, Facebook and Google will 'inexplicably' end up aligning respectively their own privacy platforms, to ensure that they compete not only healthily, but equally for Facebook to fight the ongoing Google+ defectors.

Related content:

Topics: Apps, Google, Social Enterprise

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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