Facebook Creates Clearer Privacy Settings
A screen shot showing the new 'Approve' button on Facebook.
Facebook announced that is revamping its privacy settings to increase their transparency and make it easier for the site's 750 million users to know exactly with whom they are sharing their online lives.
"Today we're announcing a bunch of improvements that make it easier to share posts, photos, tags and other content with exactly the people you want," Facebook's Chris Cox wrote in a blog post yesterday (Aug. 23).
"You have told us that 'who can see this' could be clearer across Facebook, so we have made changes to make this more visual and straightforward," he added.
Who can see you?
The modifications include "Inline Profile Controls," which enable Facebook users to select, using a drop-down menu of "public," "friends" or "custom," exactly who can see their posts.
Enhanced privacy has been extended to photos as well; Facebook's new "Profile Tag Review" setting will prevent tagged photos from automatically posting to your profile.
"You can choose to use the new tool to approve or reject any photo or post you are tagged in before it's visible to anyone else on your profile," Cox wrote.
Who can tag you?
"Content Tag Review" functions similarly, giving users the option to review and approve or reject tags someone tries to add to photos and posts. Rounding out Facebook's new security additions are tools to quickly change who can see a post or status update after you post it, and to message someone if you disapprove of a photo you were tagged in.
Facebook said these new changes will roll out "in the coming days," and will prompt account holders with a virtual tour to guide them through the new settings.
"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."
What prompted the change?
Facebook has long been criticized for its unclear privacy settings and questionable relationships with third-party advertisers . Security experts suggest, however, that it's the threat of competition from Google's new social networking site, Google+, that sparked Facebook to clarify its security stance.
Google+, which signed up 10 million users in its first two weeks, was founded on the principle that people should be able to finely tune what they share and with whom. To that end, Google+ lets its users organize friends into groups, or circles; the members in each circle are privy only to what the users decides to share with them.
"Although they've denied it, there can't be any doubt that the launch of Google+ may have influenced some of the design decisions here," Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant with the security firm Sophos, wrote.