Facebook Puts Privacy in the Forefront with New Settings

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It may have been the pressure of the growing Google + social network and its “Circles” privacy feature; or maybe it was just Facebook actually listening to user concerns. But no matter what triggered it, on Tuesday the social giant, Facebook, announced a massive redesign of its privacy features that were rolled out just yesterday.

The 750+ million users of the network have only had a few hours to get acquainted with the new privacy settings. For those of you who are still a little perplexed, we offer you this simple overview on the changes and how it will impact your Facebook experience.

Profiles

Facebook introduced what it is calling inline profile controls. Basically these are new tools that give the user control of what goes on your profile and what is visible to other people. In the past, Facebook actually did have a lot of privacy settings, but the caveat was that these options were buried in obscure setting pages that were confusing to find. Now these settings are in the forefront – easily located on your profile with a highly visible icon and drop-down menu that lets you decide what content you want to share and with whom. If you want to keep your hometown, music tastes or employer hidden, for example, you can easily do so.

Another user-friendly feature is the profile tag review. Now, a user has the ability to screen a tagged photo first before it publishes to the profile. Before this, photos were automatically posted without consent. However, it is important for users to note that the default for this setting is still automatic publication of tags. If you want to opt in for tag review so that you can approve or reject any photo or post you are tagged in before it’s visible to anyone else on your profile, you have to select the setting. Along these lines, Facebook is now giving users the ability to remove tags from all posts. The feature also goes a step further as users can also report harassment directly to Facebook or completely block a person – this will erase all history and interactions with the person selected. To better understand this feature, visit Facebook’s tutorial dedicated to Tag Review and Removal.

Facebook has always allowed its members to monitor and alter how specific users can view their profile. For example, if you want to hide all your photos and wall posts from your co-workers, you can do this in your settings. You simply put all your co-workers into a group and then create a special limited profile view for them. But testing this feature was never as easy thing. Buried in the settings was a “View Profile As” feature which allowed you to see how another individual could view your profile. This tool is now at the top of your profile where it is visible and easy to access.

Sharing

In addition the changes to the profiles, users now have a more straightforward way to control their share settings. With the inline controls drop-down menu options you can tailor each individual status update to the audience you would like to share it with. Facebook is still expanding on this tool and states that over time the options will include smaller groups of Friend Lists it created – think the Facebook answer to Google +’s Circles. Currently it only includes Friends, Custom and Public. Public is a word change for “Everyone” which was the former listing. This was done to represent a descriptive term for the behavior: since anyone may see it, but not everyone will see it.

Facebook has now also given users the right to change their minds. If you posted a status or link and labeled it Public, you can go back and decide to alter it even after hitting published. Users can adjust their inline controls at anytime.

In addition to these features which are really focused along the lines of privacy, Facebook also released a few other tweaks to the network. To read more about all of these changes, check out the official blog on Facebook.com.

Once you have your footing and understand how these new features work, we want to hear from you. What do you think about the new inline settings? Do you think Facebook did a good job of giving its users more control over their privacy?

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Jillian Ryan

Jillian Ryan is PRIVATE WiFi’s Director, Brand Communications and Social Strategy. With a passion for writing, the web, and fast-paced information exchanged via social networks, Jillian is also concerned about the ramifications of putting your life details and personal data into cyberspace. Follow her on Twitter: @Writing_Jillian.