Facebook makes sweeping privacy changesBy Ryan Noik 25 August 2011 | Categories: news
Despite Facebook’s indisputable popularity, it has also received a fair amount of criticism in the past with regards to privacy issues. And, with the advent of Google+ and the stiffer competition for people’s social lives online, it was high time the company addressed its privacy nemesis.
This week, the company did just that, announcing several large changes that are aimed at placing control firmly in users’ hands in terms of who can see what on their Facebook account. The changes will roll out over the next several days. The company explained that, in response to users’ request to clarify the “who can see this?” function on the site, it has moved Facebook users’ controls from a settings page to being inline, as a menu, next to the posts, photos and tags they affect.
Privatising your profile
Chris Cox, the vice president of Facebook products stated that one’s profile page should feel like one’s home on Facebook, adding that users should never feel like content appears there that they don't want, or be left wondering who exactly sees what's there. Therefore, the profile page is receiving some new tools that company says will give users clearer, more consistent controls over how photos and posts get added to it, and who can see what.
To this end, content on one’s profile, from one’s hometown to one’s latest photo album, will appear next to an icon and a drop-down menu. This inline menu shows who can see each part of one’s profile, and it can be changed with one click.
Cox added that one of the top requests received by the company has been for the ability to approve photo tags before they show up on one’s profile. With the new changes, users will be able to approve or reject any photo or post they are tagged in before it's visible to anyone else on their profile. Additionally, the ‘View profile as’ tool for viewing how one’s profile appears to others has been moved to the top of one’s profile where it's easier to access.
Cox elaborated that, in addition to the profile changes, it will now be more visually straightforward to understand and control who can see one’s posts at the time one shares them. Instead of controls for who sees one’s content being found tucked away in the settings page, the control for who can see each post will be inline (next to the post itself).
For each audience, there will be an icon and label to help make it easier to understand and decide who one is sharing with. Cox elaborated that the dropdown menu next to each post – which will specify whether it is for public view or friends only - will be expanded over time to include smaller groups of people one may want to share with, like co-workers, Friend Lists one has created, and Groups. These will make it easy to quickly select exactly the audience for each and any post.
However, if one is posting to Facebook from a smartphone or app that does not yet support inline controls, the setting will remain as it is. Finally, the new features will enable users to change who can see any post after the fact. “If you accidentally posted something to the wrong group, or changed your mind, you can adjust it with the inline control at any time,” elaborated Cox.
“These changes will start to roll out in the coming days. When they reach you, you'll see a prompt for a tour that walks you through these new features from your homepage. Taken together, we hope these new tools make it easier to share with exactly who you want, and that the resulting experience is a lot clearer and a lot more fun,” he concluded.
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