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Facebook Adds New Controls for Third-party Apps

Facebook has revamped the way its users share information with third-party applications and Web sites in an effort to make the process easier, the company said Wednesday.

With the changes, a new permissions box will pop up whenever a Facebook user installs a new application or first logs into an external Web site through their Facebook account, wrote Bret Taylor, the social-networking site's CTO, in a blog post.

About 550,000 applications work within Facebook and about 1 million Web sites are integrated with the site, Facebook said.

"In order for these applications and Web sites to provide social and customized experiences, they need to know a little bit about you," Taylor wrote. "We understand, however, that it's important you also have control over what you're sharing."

With the new authorization process, applications will have access to the public parts of Facebook users' profiles by default. To access the private parts of profiles, the applications will have to ask for permission, Taylor said.

As in the past, all applications that Facebook users authorize will see their basic information, including name, profile picture, gender and networks. "This is information that is publicly available on Facebook to make it easy for your friends to find you, and in this case, to help you get started quickly with applications," Taylor wrote.

Facebook first announced plans to change the way its users interact with third-party apps and Web sites last August after concerns raised by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in Canada.

The new controls announced Wednesday follow other changes to privacy controls that Facebook made in late May, after privacy advocates criticized the site's privacy settings. In the May changes, Facebook rolled out a single dashboard for privacy settings, and it allowed users to control who sees their lists of friends and promotional Pages they're fans of.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantusG. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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