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Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Facebook Changes Privacy Controls Again


Facebook is making it easier for users to control who sees their information, and to have more say over the photographs they appear in, as the social networking service seeks to assuage privacy concerns.

The changes will make it easier for users to share posts, photos, tags and other content with exactly the people they want. The main change is moving most of users' controls from a settings page to being inline, right next to the posts, photos and tags they affect. Plus there are several other updates here that will make it easier to understand who can see users' stuff (or theirfriends') in any context. Here's what's coming up, organized around two areas: what shows up on a user's profile, and what happens when he or she shares something new.

Users' profiles are getting some new tools that give them clearer, more consistent controls over how photos and posts get added to it, and who can see everything that lives there.

Until now, most of the settings for stuff on users' profile were a few clicks away on a series of settings pages.

With the changes, content on users' profiles, from their hometown to their latest photo album, will appear next to an icon and a drop-down menu. This inline menu lets users know who can see this part of their profile, and they can change it with one click.



In addition, until now, photos users were tagged in would show up on their profile as soon as they were tagged. Now users can choose to use the new tool to approve or reject any photo or post they are tagged in before it's visible to anyone else on their profile.



Users will also have the option to review and approve or reject any tag someone tries to add to their photos and posts. In addition, the new Facebook will allow users to see what their profile looks like to others by using an easy to access tool.

In addition to the profile changes, it will now be more visually straightforward to understand and control who can see users' posts at the time they share them. Facebook also made it simple to add location and tag the people users are with.

The control for who can see each post will be right inline. For each audience, there is now an icon and label to help make it easier to understand and decide who users are sharing with. Also, when users tag someone, the audience label will automatically update to show that the person tagged and their friends can see the post.



This dropdown menu will be expanding over time to include smaller groups of people users may want to share with, like co-workers, Friend Lists they've created, and Groups they're a member of.

For all those posting to Facebook from a phone or app that does not yet support inline controls, their setting will be the same as it is today. They can change this with a new setting available on their privacy settings page.

Continuing with the changes, users had the option to share a post with Everyone, which meant that anyone on the internet might be able to see it.Going Forward, Facebook is changing the name of this label from Everyone to Public so that the control is more descriptive of the behavior: anyone may see it, but not everyone will see it.

Facebook users will now be able to change who can see any post after posting it. If a users accidentally posted something to the wrong group, he or she can adjust it with the inline control at any time.

Users will be also able to add tags of their friends or anyone else on Facebook. If they are ever tagged by a non-friend, it won't appear on their profile unless they review and approve the post.

Previously, users could only "check in" to locations using the Places feature on a smart phone. Going forward, users can add location to anything. Lots of people use Facebook to talk about where they are, have been or want to go. Now they can add location from anywhere, regardless of what device they are using, or whether it is a status update, photo or Wall post. Of course, they can always choose not to add location at all. As a part of this, Facebook is phasing out the mobile-only Places feature.

The new options for removing tags or content on Facebook are also now presented more clearly. Users' options are: removing from their profile, removing the tag itself, messaging the photo owner or tagger, and requesting the content get taken down.



These changes will start to roll out in the coming days, Facebook said.

Privacy has been an ongoing challenge for advertising-supported Facebook, which must balance its commercial interests in having people share more of their lives on the service with users' sensitivities about having sufficient control over their personal information.

The latest changes come as Facebook is facing its most significant competition in the social networking market in years, following the recent launch of Google's rival service, Google+.


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