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Facebook starts pushing out new privacy settings

The latest round of privacy settings has kicked in for members around the world, starting with New Zealand, according to a report.

Facebook has started dribbling out the latest changes to its ever-changing privacy controls.

New privacy notifications and menus are now greeting members as they log in to the social network, according to The Next Web. Facebook users in New Zealand seem to be the first on the list to have received these updates.

Based on screenshots published by TNW, members receive a new message alerting them to the changes and explaining how they can block specific users.

A privacy shortcut menu is now part of the main toolbar at the top of your Facebook page. Previously, you'd have to click on the down arrow at the end of the bar to access your privacy settings. But the new and more visible menu displays basic questions on how to set various privacy options, seemingly making it easier to control specific features.

A Privacy Settings and Tools page also breaks down your privacy controls based on specific questions, such as "Who can see my stuff?" and "Who can look me up?" The page itself provides an overview of all your privacy options and lets you make sure your Timeline doesn't get indexed by search engines, according to TNW.

Privacy has been long been a thorn in Facebook's paw.

The company has often been criticized for not taking security seriously enough and for making changes to its policy without explaining them to its members.

I teach a social-networking class, and Facebook privacy is typically the top area of concern and confusion among the students. Understanding some of the settings is hard enough. But keeping up with the constant changes that Facebook makes to its privacy policy often exacerbates the problem.

These latest settings attempt to boil down privacy to specific concerns and issues, so hopefully they'll simplify the process for members.

New Zealand is typically the launchpad for Facebook when the company is testing or rolling out new features, but the new privacy controls will soon travel around the rest of the world.

A representative for Facebook told CNET that "we're testing the new tools in some specific countries right now and we will be rolling them out to additional countries over the next week."

Update, 8:45 a.m. PT: adds response from Facebook.