Facebook Revamps Privacy and Security Settings

Gilbert C. Anton

As part of its ongoing effort to counter new developments in the social media space, Facebook implemented changes to its privacy and security settings on August 24.

Some of these changes included brand new features and settings, while others simply relocated options already available to streamline the ability of users to adjust their settings as they make posts.

“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,” stated Facebook executive Chris Cox in a blog post.

When a user posts to the site they have the option to click on a small icon next to the “Post” button that allows them to decide who can view the post with options including public sharing, sharing only to friends and a custom option that allows a user to select specific users to block from being able to see a post.

This change does not introduce new features, it is simply an attempt to streamline the process and revamp the manner in which users are able to approach their privacy settings on the fly.

Coupled with this is a change to how people can be tagged in pictures on Facebook, one that has long been clamored for by the Facebook community.

When a user is tagged in a photo they will now be notified of the tag before it is implemented on Facebook, allowing the individual to untag their name before anyone sees their name attached to the picture.

In keeping with these changes and allowing further customization of privacy settings on profiles, users now have more efficient privacy settings for specific sections on their info page.

A user can keep certain details—such as their hometown or favorite music—from being visible by certain people or the public.

To help users keep track of how these individual changes affect how their profile is viewed Facebook has also revamped the ability to preview a profile before implementing any privacy settings changes.

Users can now go to the top right corner of their profile and click on the “View As” button to see how their profile appears to an individual by then typing in that user’s name.

The changes come amidst increased pressure on the company following the positive reception Google+—one of Facebook’s newest competitors in the social media space—received for its privacy settings, with many of these implemented changes drawing immediate comparisons.

Some digital security companies, such as Sophos, believe that Facebook is being too reactionary to the decisions of competitors like Google rather than taking the initiative to lead the field.

“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,” a Sophos spokesperson revealed in a statement to zdnet.com. “Facebook should become truly opt-in.”

In the statement the spokesperson went on to explain how Facebook tends to make assumptions about their user base that may be hurting their chances to stay competitive.

“Facebook, unfortunately, has time and time again eroded privacy introducing new features which share additional information about their users, assuming they want the features turned on,” the statement continued.

Facebook now faces the challenge of properly syncing up any new features they introduce with these new privacy settings and while they have a spotty record in this regard, only time will tell how the company handles such a task.