Skip Links

What You Need to Know About Facebook's New Privacy Settings

By Kristin Burnham, CIO
December 14, 2012 09:05 AM ET

CIO - Facebook announced that it's rolling out a handful of changes to the social network at the end of the year. Looking to help you better manage its privacy and security settings (which have been time-consuming and confusing to use), Facebook is adding privacy shortcuts, a tool for managing multiple photos in which you're tagged and new navigation in the activity log.

Facebook Product Manager Samuel Lessin says these changes were made to give you more transparency and help you better understand who can see the things you share.

"We continue to strive toward three main goals: bringing controls in context where you share, helping you understand what appears where you use Facebook, and providing tools to help you act on content you don't like," he says.

While some of these changes--in particular the new privacy shortcut--are a step in the right direction, according to Naked Security blogger Lisa Vaas, some miss the mark.

Here's an in-depth look at Facebook's major changes and what it all means for you.

Facebook's New Privacy Shortcut

Facebook's privacy settings have never been easy to navigate. But a new privacy shortcut the social network is rolling out aims to easily direct you to answers to three common questions: Who can see my stuff? Who can contact me? How do I stop someone from bothering me?

By the end of the year, you'll see a new icon between your Home and Settings. Click the lock icon to view the drop-down menu, and select the option for the setting you want to change.

Facebook's new privacy shortcut is a positive change, Vaas says.

"Up until now, tweaking privacy and timeline controls required you to stop what you were doing and navigate through a separate set of pages. In the best of all possible worlds, the ease of access to Facebook privacy controls would increase their use," she says. "That's good. It's hard to imagine their use getting worse, at any rate."

Facebook's New App Permissions

Facebook is also tweaking the permissions you see when you install a new app. Traditionally, you were prompted to give permission to use your information to personalize your experience and to post to Facebook, all on the same screen.

Soon, these two permissions will appear in separate windows so you can better control what you share. For example, you can grant an app the capability to read your public profile and friends list to personalize your experience, but decline to allow it to post your activity on your behalf.

[How Secure Are Your Facebook Apps?]

Facebook Removes Search Setting, Adds In-Context Notices

One privacy setting that Facebook is removing is the "Who can look up my timeline by name" setting, which has controlled whether you can be found by typing your name into the Facebook search bar.

"Because of the limited nature of the setting, we removed it for people who weren't using it," Facebook's Lessin says. This setting will be removed in the coming weeks for the "small percentage of people who still have it," he says.

Rather than remove this setting, Naked Security's Vaas says it should have been fixed. "If the original setting was limited in scope and failed to do what it purported [...] why not rework it so as to actually protect people's privacy and give them the right to not be found?" she says.

Our Commenting Policies
Latest News
rssRss Feed
View more Latest News