To expand its sharing option to match what Google+ offers in its ‘Circles’ feature
Social networking site Facebook has added new features and made user controls clearer in its effort to provide better privacy to users.
The company has revealed that it would expand its new sharing option so that users could restrict people from seeing posts they want to share selectively, something Google had introduced with its ‘Circles’ feature in its social networking platform Google+.
Facebook product vice-president Chris Cox said in a blog, "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."
"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 blog said.
Among the changes is bringing the users’ controls from the settings page closer to the posts, photos and tags.
The company had run into trouble after privacy campaigners raised concerns that Facebook had changed its users’ privacy settings to automatically turn on the controversial facial recognition feature. They also claimed that Facebook did not give users the option to avoid being tagged in a photo.
Germany has also asked Facebook to disable the facial recognition feature and also to delete any previously stored data, citing data protection laws.
In June, Facebook admitted that it should have notified users about the changes.
Now the company says that the new settings allow users to approve or reject tags that other people make to their photos. Changes also allow for more location tagging.
Facebook has witnessed phenomenal growth over the years as competitors MySpace and Google’s Orkut struggled to survive. Google+ is considered to the first potential rival of Facebook.
The search engine company launched Google+ on 28 June, a move considered as the company’s most ambitious one in social networking since co-founder Larry Page took over as chief executive in April.
The new platform, which claimed that it offered better privacy features to users, was well received after the launch. Google+ has over 25 million users now, compared with microblogging site Twitter’s over 300 million users, and Facebook’s over 750 million users.
Google has stressed on Google+’s ability to gives users the choice to separate online friends and family into different "Circles," or networks, and to share information only with members of a particular circle.
One of the criticisms of Facebook is that updates are shared with all of one’s friends unless a user has gone through a relatively complicated process to create separate Facebook Groups.
Google senior vice-president of engineering Vic Gundotra has said, "The online tools we have to choose from give us very rigid services."
"Other social networking tools make selective sharing within small groups difficult."
Now, Facebook has said that its new sharing option will be expanded to match the ‘Circles’ features of Google+.
Cox said, "This [sharing option] dropdown menu will be expanding over time to include smaller groups of people you may want to share with, like co-workers, friend lists you’ve created, and groups you’re a member of."
"These will make it easy to quickly select exactly the audience you want for any post."
Cox added that the company had been working on the changes for the last six months.
"These changes will start to roll out in the coming days," Cox said.
Last week, a senior Facebook executive had reportedly claimed that Google+ lacks originality and has "emulated aspects" of Facebook’s system.