Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

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.

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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: < a href="http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/facebook-killing-places-but-emphasizing-location-sharing-more/2972">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

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

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.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

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22 comments
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  • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

    I would rather use my mail to communicate, if I?m so much concerned about my privacy. After all facebook is a social networking site, let it be social rather than being private.

    It seems facebook is just doing the reverse of what Yahoo and Hotmail have been doing all these years, transforming from a social networking platform to a mailing platform.
    DeepeshKumar
  • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

    I think they keep changing privacy controls so they can put them back to their default, not the profile's preference. it's a revolving system. It will change again next month.
    compwrench
    • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

      @compwrench THAT makes total sense!
      shannon.ahern
  • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

    This is silly, because there is ALREADY a per-post adjustment available for everything one posts - that's the drop-down under the little padlock icon that's there when composing the post.

    Also, the Settings pages were effective and useful. I detest the dumbing-down of everything just because people are lazy. I am worried now that I'm going to have to screw around with individuated settings every time I share something. I certainly hope not, but this is so redundant and lame, I guess I would not be surprised. If they've deprecated the Settings page, where can one set the defaults??
    shannon.ahern
    • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

      @shannon.ahern
      They didn't deprecate the Settings page. They just removed a bunch of stuff from it.
      Empro
  • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

    LOL. They add a bunch of stuff that Google+ had out of the box.

    Let's see what other stuff Google+ innovates and then Facebook rips off.
    Droid101
    • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

      @Droid101

      Eric Schmidt and you are, like, BFFs, huh?
      Andre Richards
    • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

      @Droid101 You mean like the whole social network thing that Google Ripped off... like that huh... you know just asking.
      ItsTheBottomLine
      • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

        @ItsTheBottomLine Actually Google got into the social network business before Facebook with Orkut which launch about two weeks ahead of Facebook.
        Knowles2
      • Message has been deleted.

        Andre Richards
    • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

      @Droid101
      you are so right!!!
      primerochoice@...
  • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

    "the company says its users have been asking for improvements in this department for a long time."

    Asking, yes. But it took competition from Google+ to get them. Very reactive, if you ask me. Ultimately, I think Facebook is going to be a follower, not a leader.

    But Facebook has a chance of keeping their lead now. If Google+ doesn't fix its "real names" fiasco, I think they may lose their edge.
    CobraA1
    • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

      @CobraA1 Why does it needs to fix anything. Facebook did alright with its real name policy. An I suspect Google plus will just fine with its real name policy.
      Knowles2
      • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

        @Knowles2 <br><br>"Why does it needs to fix anything."<br><br>Because it's broken.<br><br>"Facebook did alright with its real name policy."<br><br>Facebook barely enforces their policy. There are a lot of fake profiles on Facebook. I suspect they only enforce their policy if somebody is being really problematic.<br><br>"An I suspect Google plus will just fine with its real name policy."<br><br>Doubtful, since they are being so uptight about enforcing them.
        CobraA1
  • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

    but there are already these privacy controls...
    Fattore Zero
    • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

      @Fattore Zero Excellent! Now, where is the control for the visibility of the "real" profile name?

      Oh, that's right - it's the one part of your profile without a privacy control.

      Why should the name be different from anything else?
      CobraA1
  • Privacy defaults...

    Usually the privacy controls accomplish the reverse because the default settings are not what the user would have chosen in the <a href="http://www.sheltonresearch.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">security window.</font></a>
    smartobject
  • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

    What's Google?
    Facebook is where it's at.
    skicatdave
  • Missing privacy setting: Selective Enable

    I have been asking FB to provide the converse to blocking: an individual Enable to allow a certain person to see some content without them being your 'friend'.
    Let's see if this is now available ...
    mikew_z
  • RE: Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing

    LOL, looks like someone is worried about Google+ :p

    This is just another illusion of security; everything you put on facebook, stays on facebook and can be accessed at anytime by government (who facebook have been selling user infos to).
    MrElectrifyer