Facebook follows Google's lead on user privacy settings

News by Dan Raywood

Facebook has announced further privacy settings to make it easier to share posts, photos, tags and other content with the right people.

Facebook has announced further privacy settings to make it easier to share posts, photos, tags and other content with the right people.

Following user feedback over concern on who can see posts and content, Facebook's vice president of product, Chris Cox, said in a blog that changes have been made to make this more visual and straightforward.

He said: “The main change is moving most of your controls from a settings page to being inline, right next to the posts, photos and tags they affect.”

He said that while previously settings were on a specific page, now they will be on the user's profile via an icon and a drop-down menu that will allow the user to decide if the content is to be viewed by ‘public', ‘friends' or ‘custom'.

Also, users will now be able to use a ‘Profile tag review' so they can approve or reject any photo or post they are tagged in before it is visible to anyone else on your profile.

“In addition to the profile changes, it will now be more visually straightforward to understand and control who can see your posts at the time you share them. We're also broadening the functionality of the sharing tool: now if you want to make your posts more expressive, we've made it simple to add location and tag the people you're with,” said Cox.

He also said that moving forward, users will able to tag anyone in photos and content, yet it will not appear unless it is approved. A blog by Forbes suggested that this is a huge change to the way Facebook has traditionally operated, as it makes the site a lot more like Twitter and Google+ where you are able to communicate and interact with people who are not in your social circle by choice.

Cameron Camp, researcher at ESET, said: “With the growth, users have started clamouring for increased privacy control and it looks like the message is starting to be heard. Facebook is now trotting out a series of new user privacy controls, so now you will have controls next to content that can be shared, rather than buried a few layers within a menu structure.

“This sort of movement is positive for us security types. At least making security choices simpler, the kind of thing my mum may understand and (hopefully) use, maybe even without me explaining it.

“They also say they'll be listening for feedback from the user base following the rollout, and being responsive, so it'll be nice to see a proactive stance. Keeping things secure is a continually moving target, so it's nice to see efforts in that direction from Facebook.”

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, also commented on the similarity to Google+ in making it more obvious to users on how their information is being shared.

He said: “We'll have to wait until the controls are live on Facebook users' accounts before we can give them a gold star, but from the sound of things Facebook deserves some credit for the revamp.

“Although I'm pleased to see what appears to be Facebook simplifying its privacy settings and making them more visible, it has missed an opportunity to lead the way on privacy. Facebook should become truly opt-in. Not just on the basis that a new user opts in altogether by joining Facebook in the first place, but on the basis that everything is locked down until a new user opens up each feature.”


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