New Facebook Privacy Controls: What You Need to Know

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Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, held a press conference at 1:30pm EDT today announcing the big changes for Facebook’s privacy settings. A lot of the changes are much-needed fixes, but while this is a big step forward, the work isn’t quite done. Here’s a breakdown of what you should know about these changes and how they’ll affect your Facebook experience.

Simplified Granular Controls:

There’s going to be one simple control center for all the things you do on Facebook. The settings you choose here will be retroactively applied to content you’ve previously added and will apply automatically to any new content or features added to Facebook. As in the old system, the choices for sharing groups are Everyone, Friends of Friends, and Friends Only.

The groups of content that can be assigned to one of these three groups are as follows:

  • My status, photos, and posts
  • Bio and favorite quotations
  • Family and relationships
  • Photos and videos I’m tagged in
  • Religious and political views
  • Birthday
  • Can comment on posts
  • E-mail addresses and IM
  • Phone number and address

While this is a good improvement, there is still a disclaimer at the top of the new privacy hub, reading, “To help real world friends find you, some basic information is available to everyone.” This seems really unnecessary to force onto people. Also, the recommended settings put a startling amount of content as available to everyone. This isn’t necessarily super-concerning in terms of Facebook use, as it’s now much easy to change the settings to what you like, but it shows a lack, on Zuckerberg’s part, of understanding the gravity of people’s concerns.

Zuckerberg emphasized that some things, like pages, used not to have any privacy setting, but now do. However, he still seems to feel that some things should always be available to everyone, and some people really just won’t want this. That said, the fact that pages and friends now have any privacy settings is a big step forward.

Third Party Sharing (Platform, Instant Personalization):

You know that annoying pop-up that comes with every application asking you for your personal information? Yeah, they’re finally dealing with that. Platform will now have simple controls. First of all there is an easy opt out option to disallow all third party applications from accessing your information. It also stops your friends from sharing your information.

In the same vein, there is also now an opt-out option for instant personalization, meaning that you can stop all those pesky sites who want to cater to you with personal information from Facebook you don’t want them to have can’t do that anymore. And again, this also means your friends can’t see your information on those sites either.

Last, with granular permissions, the amount of information applications can access is greatly diminished and dictated by what you do consider available to everyone. The option to make some info available to people but not applications still doesn’t exist, though it’s unclear whether there is a widespread demand for it.

And as a clarification for this, changing these setting is retroactive, meaning any info you cease to share with applications will actually be deleted from those applications if they obtained the info previously. Good move.

And That’s It:

Zuckerberg writes on the Facebook blog:

“Finally and perhaps most importantly, I am pleased to say that with these changes the overhaul of Facebook’s privacy model is complete. If you find these changes helpful, then we plan to keep this privacy framework for a long time. That means you won’t need to worry about changes. (Believe me, we’re probably happier about this than you are.)”

I’m sure he is. These changes should start rolling out in the coming months. And while there are a few things missing, especially regarding allowing yourself to be tagged in photos and videos, it’s certainly going to be a lot better than it was. Happy Facebooking!

(Via TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, and Facebook, image via Facebook)

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