It’s everywhere, inescapable. In every news outlet, in every country of the world (sometimes as a front page story), Facebook privacy settings are changing once again. That fact in itself is practically a landmark in the importance of social networking sites, but that’s a different blog post.
So you may be thinking, as I’m sure quite a lot of Facebook’s almost 500 million registered users are, what exactly is going on?
Not so long ago Facebook changed their privacy settings to allow users granular access to their privacy settings, to control exactly who can see what, when, where and in what context. Personally I thought this was a marvelous idea, and the first thing I did was set everything to private. Job done, straightforward and spelled out for you there in black and white.
Unfortunately this spelled trouble for people who found the level of control to be overwhelming and confusing, and after a few privacy gaffes (including a few choice comments from Mark Zuckerberg himself) and millions of users threatening to delete or abandon their accounts, Facebook have caved to the pressure and are rolling out a simpler, one click approach to privacy controls. But what exactly does this mean?
- There is now the equivalent of a big red flashy button. Facebook explains: “A new simple control makes it easy to share on Facebook with friends, friends of friends or everyone—all with just one click. The corresponding settings are immediately applied and displayed in an easy-to-understand grid.”
So there you have it, to change your privacy levels, one click. Bang, and you’re done.
- Fortunately (at least from my point of view) the granular privacy access controls will remain as an option. These now appear on a single page in your settings panel and any changes apply account wide, from your wall to any applications you might use Facebook connect with. This applies to all your information. Perfect for those that like to control (and don’t mind taking responsibility for) their own privacy settings.
- The amount of information that is available on your profile, such as gender, age, job, relationship status etc will be reduced and is also controllable by the end-user.
- Facebook pages will “have privacy settings that work for both ends of the connection”. Meaning that you can now hide what pages you like from friends and connections, and also on the fan box on the pages themselves.
- You can now opt out of your information sharing on platform applications.
Following the raging debates and heated threats to leave Facebook a ghost town, the much demanded privacy settings are in the here and now. It’s difficult to strike a balance when simplicity and yet total control are your end goals, and time will tell whether this will be enough to calm the storm of angry users. Hopefully they can now go back to Farmville and Mafia Wars safe in the knowledge that their private information remains just that: private.
But then, is anything ever really private on the internet?
Posted by: Darryl Walker