Update 12/16/09: Additional references.
- Tech for Luddites: Facebook's Latest Privacy Changes: The Good, The Bad, and The Oh-So-Ugly
- Tech for Luddites: The Good Part of Facebook's New Privacy Settings
Behind all of the complexity it looks like their primary motivation is to provide more of your personal information to the often shady (sometimes criminal) 3rd party applications. When an app vendor finds a gullible person, they can then target their friends.
Facebook's latest machinations support their high ranking on Gordon's Corporate Evil Scale.
Update 12/17/09: The bad news continues. The motivation is obviously the FB Apps market.
- Banks using Shadowy Apps to Harvest Personal Information from Facebook Profiles: This feels a bit improbable. It does illustrate, however, how some of the information now exposed to FB apps can and will be sold and used.
- Is Facebook a Brand that You Can Trust- - O'Reilly Radar: This article also links to some past FB references such as Beacon Debacle, Scamville Furor and the current Privacy Putsch. It includes two key quotes from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
…new 'privacy' changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before… The privacy 'transition tool' that guides users through the configuration will 'recommend' — preselect by default — the setting to share the content they post to Facebook, such as status messages and wall posts, with everyone on the Internet, even though the default privacy level that those users had accepted previously was limited to 'Your Networks and Friends' …
… You Can't Opt Out of The "Sharing" of Your Information with Facebook Apps..