Facebook Cracks 350 Million Users, Adjusts Privacy Settings

    December 2, 2009
    Chris Crum

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced last night that the social network now has over 350 million users around the world. The number indicates continued strong growth, because just in September, Facebook announced that it has surpassed 300 million. In early November, it was reported that Facebook had reached at least 325 million.

Zuckerberg announced the news in an open letter, which was made available on the company blog, and linked to from a prominent spot on users’ Facebook homepage. The letter was not written simply to brag about the impressive number, however. Zuckerberg also addressed steps Facebook is taking to improve user privacy as it continues to grow . Here’s a sample of the letter:

Mark ZuckerbergFacebook’s current privacy model revolves around "networks" — communities for your school, your company or your region. This worked well when Facebook was mostly used by students, since it made sense that a student might want to share content with their fellow students.

Over time people also asked us to add networks for companies and regions as well. Today we even have networks for some entire countries, like India and China.

However, as Facebook has grown, some of these regional networks now have millions of members and we’ve concluded that this is no longer the best way for you to control your privacy. Almost 50 percent of all Facebook users are members of regional networks, so this is an important issue for us. If we can build a better system, then more than 100 million people will have even more control of their information.

Facebook’s plan involves removing regional networks completely and allowing users choose who can see their content: friends, friends of friends, or everyone. Facebook is also adding the ability to control who sees any particular piece of content a user creates or uploads. This has been a heavily requested feature. Finally, the privacy settings page will consolidate some of the settings to make them simpler.

As Facebook begins integrating its new changes, it will be reminding users to review/update their privacy settings. Users will see a message about it soon.

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