Facebook has launched a series of content control changes. It is believed that this might be a response to enact controls similar to that of Google+ and it’s online “Circles” contacts, though Facebook claims they’ve been working on it for months.

“We’ve been working on these updates for over six months,” said Facebook product manager Kate O’Neill. “I just really wish we could work that fast. This is really about listening to people on Facebook and trying to respond to the things that they’ve asked for to make their experiences even better.”

“I don’t think Facebook is the kind of company that is resting on its laurels,” said Chris Conley, Technology and Civil Liberties Fellow for the ACLU of Northern California. “They’re aware that the technology industry changes very quickly and if they want to retain their users and continue to be the dominant social network, they need to continue to improve and engage with users and address the concerns that users bring up.”

Of course, Facebook may or may not of known whether Google+ was on the way, but they certainly knew that if they didn’t address privacy concerns, someone else would. “They certainly know what happened to MySpace,” Conley said.

Changes will also likely came as a result of pressure from regulators and privacy advocates. By working on such efforts now, it means they’ll avoid running afoul of such groups and having to make changes later.

“I think that Facebook has learned the hard way that privacy isn’t something you can blow off,” said Erica Newland, a policy analyst with the Center for Democracy and Technology. “We think that these changes look really good… and make controlling who can see what information much more intuitive. Facebook said the changes will start rolling out to a small group of users Thursday, and then will scale up the coming weeks across all platforms (including mobile).”

“What we are seeing is a recognition from Facebook that privacy is a value-add to users,” added Newland. “It’s a point that social networks have to distinguish themselves and keep attracting users.”

Source: AdWeek