A Facebook warning call: NYT says Google+ gets privacy right

It's another warning for Facebook as the New York Times gives Google+ a one-up when it comes to handling privacy.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a complete revamping of Facebook's privacy settings fairly soon - especially now that the New York Times has given Google+ a one-up over Facebook when it comes to privacy settings.

Privacy still matters - or maybe it's just control over what gets shared that really matters. That's something that Facebookers have told founder Mark Zuckerberg time and time again, usually in a revolt when a new feature will come to Facebook and the privacy settings get tweaked in favor of more sharing. Users squawk, Facebook readjusts the settings and issues an apology and all is forgiven. After all, it's not like there was another Facebook-like place where people could hang out and socialize on the Internet.

Until now.

Also: Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook users usually get over privacy anxiety

In less than a month, Google+ has skyrocketed, now at 10 million strong and growing. There's been quite a bit of chatter on Facebook among the people in my networks. And many of them are starting to show up in Google+, adding me to their circles. Even my wife, who spends a fair amount of time connecting with friends and family on FB, asked about Google+ on Saturday. We set up an account and, by the time Monday morning came around, her network of circles was already growing.

My wife, who tends to take her Facebook privacy settings - as well as her friend list - very seriously, was initially hesitant about Google+. She certainly didn't like the idea of not having to request a friend or approve a friend, nor was she comfortable with just anyone seeing her photos, status updates and other postings.

But then, as she got deeper into Google+, she started to recognize that sharing with specific circles was actually a "better way" (her words, not mine) of posting things. She's the one who recognized that this Google+ way of sharing was better than having to go in and mess with all of those settings in Facebook.

Now, none of this is to say that Facebook will be heading down a MySpace path anytime soon. My wife has built a strong network of folks in FB and even she commented that, without a few of her core Facebook friends, Google+ was kind of boring. Certainly, she won't stop logging in to Facebook on a regular basis.

Still, this should serve as yet another warning call to Facebook. Google is sending a strong and loud message that Facebook is no longer the only game in town. And taking time to address the pain points that have long existed in Facebook - such as privacy - will only make Google+ look that much more attractive.

Which brings me back to my prediction that, in the case of privacy settings, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Facebook come up with some sort of simplification of those settings. Sure, that means the leader would be following in the footsteps of the new guy on the block.

But, it's got to be better than following in the footsteps of MySpace.