Is Facebook's Privacy Policy Too Confusing?

The sister of Facebook's founder got tripped up by the privacy settings while posting a private family photo.

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Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, posted a photo to Facebook which subsequently ended up posted to the Twitter account of the marketing director of Vox Media—and was then visible to her 40,000 followers. Zuckerberg was able to use her status as sister of the founder and former marketing manager for the social networking company to get the photo removed, but the incident raises questions as to whether or not Facebook's privacy guidelines are too confusing.

The family photo posted by Zuckerberg showed up on the newsfeed of Vox Media's Callie Schweitzer because they have a mutual friend, but Zuckerberg did not intend for the photo to become public. She said it was "way uncool" for Schweitzer to post the private photo to Twitter.

[ See 2012: The Year in Cartoons.]

"Digital etiquette: always ask permission before posting a friend's photo publicly. It's not about privacy settings, it's about human decency," Zuckerberg wrote afterwards on Twitter.

Schweitzer deleted the photo and apologized for reposting what she thought was public content. Some say Scheweitzer didn't do anything wrong, and Zuckerberg was at fault for not understanding who she was sharing her photo with. Gawker's Mario Aguilar, for example, writes:

But hold the phone, Callie! Don't apologize. Doesn't Randi Zuckerberg understand her privacy settings and how a photo on Facebook might suddenly fly out of her control? She's merely compromising her personal desires for the forward march of Facebook's benevolent reign and the advancement of the new,  new social-media contract. No comprende? That's her problem.

[ Check out 2012: The Year in Photos.]

Facebook has been criticized for its often changing and vague privacy guidelines, with users complaining that it is too difficult to tell which of their friends can see what pieces of content they post. For example, photo albums can be set to public, so everyone can see them, or restricted to only friends, or further restricted to some friends and not others. The changing controls can make it difficult for users to determine which they've selected.

[ See Celebrity Winners and Losers of 2012.]

Facebook is rolling out new privacy settings, and past confusion has been such that Gizmodo published a guide detailing steps users should take to ensure they know who can see what, and that they aren't sharing anything they don't want to be.

What do you think? Is Facebook's privacy policy too confusing? Take the poll and comment below.

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