NEW YORK -- A woman I haven't spoken to in six years is pregnant with her second son. Another college acquaintance reads the Bible a lot. A high school classmate likes to rant about politics. A college dormmate thinks he works too much.
On Facebook, I'm connected to a lot of people who are not my friends. Over the years, as my Facebook friend list grows, it's made me increasingly uncomfortable that I seem to know so much about people that I don't actually know.
So as the new year approached, I decided to review my Facebook life. I took a four-week break -- a "Facebook Fast" -- from the world's biggest online social network.
What did I learn? Sure, there are sleazy and annoying aspects to Facebook. It connects us to each other like tabloids connect readers to celebrities, and it compels us to gossip. It often makes us voyeurs accidentally immersed in the intimate lives of people we barely know. But after eight years on the network, I rely on it for pictures and news of faraway friends and relatives. I can't quit. Like it or not, Facebook is an important part of my life.
Facebook Inc. is in the midst of trying to make its privacy policies more intuitive for users. It has added a little padlock icon at the top right of the website. When you click on it, Facebook walks you through how to change who sees what you post, who can contact you and how to review what others are writing about you. …