Could Friends Reunited teach Facebook a thing or two about user privacy controls?

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With Facebook’s recent campaign to “fix” its somewhat byzantine privacy controls – or at least the negative PR surrounding them – and an obsession to become more like Twitter, maybe Zuckerberg and co. could learn something from the UK-born Friends Reunited, that old skool social network of the Dot Com era.

The site, which has been through many a revamp itself, most notably after it was sold to the broadcaster iTV for £120m who subsequently offloaded it at a huge loss to the D.C. Thomson-owned brightsolid, recently rolled out new privacy settings that bridge the gap between Facebook’s originally closed ethos and the public sharing nature of Twitter.

Now when you ‘friend’ someone on Friends Reunited, you’re actually given two options:

The first option is ‘Friends & Family’, which follows the Facebook-esque protocol in that the friend request needs to be accepted – a handshake as it were – and gives your new friend permission to see all of your updates (profile, photos, blogs and news) that have been marked as public or private. They’ll, of course, be alerted to your friend request and, as I said, will need to accept.

The second option ‘Following’, as the name suggests, borrows from Twitter’s model of followers. The person who you choose to friend in this way won’t be required to accept and you can only view their public updates and content, which will now show up in your news feed, just like following somebody on Twitter.

So, basically, Friends Reunited does away with the complexity of more granular controls and keeps things dead simple: share some stuff within a closed social network marked ‘Friends & Family’ but still allow anybody to keep keep track of status updates/content that you choose to make public.

Simple.

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