Digital-rights groups and bloggers have heaped criticism on Facebook’s changes to its privacy policy, reports the BBC. Critics said the changes were unwelcome and "nudged" people toward sharing updates with the wider web, making them findable via search engines. The changes were introduced Dec. 9 via a pop-up that asked users to update their privacy settings. Facebook said the changes help members manage updates they want to share, not trick them into revealing too much. "Facebook is nudging the settings toward the ‘disclose everything’ position," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "That’s not fair from the privacy perspective." Facebook began testing the privacy changes during mid-2009 before introducing them site-wide. The changes let people decide who should see updates, whether all 350 million Facebook members should see them, and if they should be viewable across the web. Privacy advocates criticized a decision to make Facebook users’ gender and location viewable by everyone. Jason Kincaid, writing on the Tech Crunch news blog, said some of the changes were made to make Facebook more palatable to search sites such as Bing and Google. Barry Schnitt, a Facebook spokesman, said users could avoid revealing some information to non-friends by leaving gender and location fields blank. He said the changes to privacy make it easier to tune the audience for an update or status change, so default settings of openness should have less impact. "Any suggestion that we’re trying to trick them into something would work against any goal that we have," said Schnitt…

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