Facebook backtracks on public friend lists

Some members took issue with the fact that Facebook's new privacy settings exposed their list of connections, so Facebook has pulled back a bit on it.

It's been a matter of days since Facebook's new privacy controls went into place, and the company is already making modifications in response to user complaints that they expose too much information. Namely, the company has made it easier to prevent people from seeing who your friends are.

For one, Facebook no longer makes a link to a list of your friends publicly available, and it has added an option for members who want no one at all--including other friends--to see their connections. Third-party applications, however, can still access it.

"In response to your feedback, we've improved the Friend List visibility option," an update to Facebook's blog post about the new privacy settings read. "Now when you uncheck the 'Show my friends on my profile' option in the Friends box on your profile, your Friend List won't appear on your profile regardless of whether people are viewing it while logged into Facebook or logged out. This information is still publicly available, however, and can be accessed by applications."

Facebook's reasons for making this move likely have something to do with the fact that it wants to be a safe place for professionals: in some fields of work, people may be uncomfortable with basically opening up their Rolodexes. There was a high-profile incident that highlighted these potential pratfalls of making one's Facebook friend list publicly available: Business Insider revealed earlier this week that CEO Patrick Byrne was keeping a list of journalists covering the company as well as their professional connections found through Facebook.

The new privacy settings give members more control over how much they share in general, but they additionally encourage them to make more content public as the site moves from a closed-off, login-required site to a potentially huge player in the new real-time search craze. But the company remains under pressure from not only its 350-million-plus users, but also lawmakers in multiple countries who have voiced concerns about how much the company is doing to protect users' privacy.