National News

Facebook expands privacy checkup tool

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK - More Facebook users can expect to see a blue cartoon dinosaur popping up in their feeds, reminding them to check their privacy settings.

No stranger to privacy fiascos, Facebook had already made the tool available to users who were posting public updates. The feature is designed to remind people how widely they share posts, what apps they use and other privacy issues.

Besides providing all of its 1.3 billion users with a privacy check-up, Facebook also will set default controls on new users' posts to "friends." Previously, the posts were programmed so they could be seen by anyone on the Internet, unless the user manually changed the control.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that the effort to help guard users' privacy is part of Facebook's commitment to "loving the people we serve." That's a "symbolic shift," Zuckerberg said, for a decade-old company that has repeatedly irritated its users with design changes that appeared aimed at sharing personal information more widely to help sell more advertising based on their interests.

"We think this is taking our responsibility seriously to make sure people have control over who they are sharing with," Zuckerberg told Facebook shareholders during the Menlo Park, California, company's annual meeting. "Over time, we think that is going to serve everyone who is using Facebook better and help us achieve our long-term goals."

The 90-minute meeting was more cordial than last year's gathering, which was held while Facebook's stock was hovering around $24 — more than one-third below its initial public offering price of $38 in May 2012. Boosted by Zuckerberg's successful efforts to sell more ads on mobile devices, Facebook's stock added 3 cents Thursday to close at $60.52.

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