Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

Summary:Facebook is rolling out a major revamp to its privacy settings. The changes affect what you see on your profile as well as when you share content on the social network.

Facebook today announced a bunch of privacy improvements for what shows up on your profile and what happens when you share something new. The company isn't adding new features per se, but it is making it easier to share posts, photos, tags, and other content with only the people you want to do so.

With this major settings revamp, Facebook is trying to simplify the answer to the question "who can see this?" – the company says its users have been asking for improvements in this department for a long time. The main change is moving most of your controls from a settings page to being inline to the posts, photos, and tags they affect.

Facebook will start rolling out these changes this Thursday (August 25, 2011) to its 750 million users. The company will issue a prompt for a tour that walks you through these new features from your homepage. Alternatively, a summary is available below, and I've also created an accompanying Photo Gallery with screenshots for those who are more visual.

Here are the changes you will soon see on your Facebook profile:

  • Inline Profile Controls: before, most profile settings were on a series of settings pages. Now, content on your profile will appear next to an icon and a drop-down menu. This inline menu lets you know who can see this part of your profile, and change it right there if you want. This also results in a much shorter and simpler Settings page.
  • Profile Tag Review: before, photos you were tagged in would show up on your profile as soon as you were tagged. Now, Facebook has added the ability to approve these tags before they show up on your profile. You can choose to use the new tool to approve or reject any photo or post you are tagged in before it's visible to anyone else on your profile.
  • Content Tag Review: before, anyone who could see your photos or posts could add tags to them. Now, you will have the option to review and approve or reject any tag someone tries to add to your photos and posts.
  • View Profile As…: before, you could not see what your profile looked like to others, although Facebook had such a tool internally. Now, this tool is available on the top of your profile.

Here are the changes you will soon see when you share content on Facebook:

  • Inline controls: before, you could control who could see your stuff on Facebook on a settings page. Now, the control for who can see each post is inline. For each audience, there is an icon and label to help make it easier to understand and decide who you're sharing with. When you tag someone, the audience label will automatically update to show that the person was tagged and that their friends can see the post. This dropdown menu will be expanding over time to include smaller groups of people you may want to share with, including co-workers, Friend Lists you've created, and Groups you're a member of.
  • Word Change: before you had the option to share a post with Everyone, which meant that anyone on the Internet might be able to see it. Now, the name of this label has been changed from Everyone to Public (same function, new language), so that the control is more descriptive of the behavior: anyone may see it, but not everyone will see it.
  • Change Your Mind After You Post?: before, once you posted a status update, you couldn't change who could see it. Now, you'll be able to change who can see any post after the fact. If you accidentally posted something to the wrong group, or changed your mind, you can adjust it with the inline control at any time.
  • Tag Who You're With or What You Want to Talk About: before, you could only tag someone if you were friends with them, and you could only tag a Page if you had Liked it. Now, you can add tags of your friends or anyone else on Facebook. If you are ever tagged by a non-friend, it won't appear on your profile unless you review and approve the post.
  • Tag Locations in Posts: before, you could only check in to locations using the Places feature on a smartphone. Now, you can add location to anything, from anywhere, regardless of what device you are using, or whether it is a status update, photo, or Wall post. Facebook is thus phasing out the mobile-only Places feature, and settings associated with it are also being phased out or removed.
  • Remove Tags or Content from Facebook: before, removing a tag was confusing. Now, your options for removing tags or content on Facebook are presented more clearly: you can either remove a tag from your profile, remove the tag itself, or message the photo owner or tagger to request the content get taken down.

The video above is specific for the location changes, which I've outlined more in-depth in this article: Facebook killing Places, but emphasizing location sharing more.

"We look forward to your feedback on all of this," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "Taken together, we hope these new tools make it easier to share with exactly who you want, and that the resulting experience is a lot clearer and a lot more fun."

See also:

Topics: Social Enterprise, Legal

About

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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