Facebook Gives New Privacy Settings

Published on Dec 13 2012 // Technology News


Facebook has changed its privacy controls after conducting a vote on the matter that was doomed from the start to be irrelevant. Facebook claims the tweaks to its system will make it easier for users to access and understand their privacy settings, and that may be true. However, it also appears that users’ timelines will be more searchable, which may be a key reason underlying Facebook’s move.

Facebook privacy “kit” updates that will begin rolling out next week include shortcuts to controls; a simple-to-use log of what a user has been sharing, and tools for managing pictures “tagged” with their names.

“Our goal is making sure people understand the ways they can control their information,” Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan told AFP while providing an early look at the changes. “We want people to make the choices that are right for them.” Facebook last year introduced “in-context controls” that call attention to privacy settings at moments when members are taking actions such as posting comments or pictures.

The shortcuts were meant to build on the strategy of putting privacy controls in easy reach at relevant moments during activities at the social network, according to Egan. Tools from account settings and privacy controls pages were consolidated in one spot, where guides for helping use them are in plain language instead of technical jargon.

Examples included guidance provided for finding out “Who can see my stuff?” or “How can I keep people from bothering me?” Facebook will also require many applications synched to the social network to separately ask users for personal information from accounts or for permission to post anything back to a user’s timeline at the social network.

“We think this will make it simpler for people to decide when they want to use apps,” Egan said. Game apps for Facebook will not be changed to the new permissions setting. Facebook is “retiring” a feature that lets people look up users’ timelines by searching on their names. The Activity Log update was designed to make it easier for people to review what they have posted at Facebook and pictures that have been tagged with their names at the social network.

Activity Logs will give people the option to select batches of photos in which they are tagged and send messages asking the friends behind the images to take them down from the website. People can personalize messages to accompany “bulk removal” requests, or pick from a list of pre-written reasons including “They are embarrassing” and “They make me sad.”

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