Facebook changes privacy controls

August 27, 2011 |

Out-law.com has noted that Facebook has changed its privacy settings.

It provides:

Users will now be given greater control over who can link them to content published on the site and the changes also give users the option to alter who can see comments they post after they are posted, Facebook said.

Controls that allow users to select who can see content on their homepage have been moved from ‘behind-the-scenes’ settings pages onto users’ “inline” menu, allowing them to select whether they want comments to be made public, visible only to friends, or a custom selection of users, Facebook said.

“Content on your profile, from your hometown to your latest photo album, will appear next to an icon and a drop-down menu,” Chris Cox, vice president of product at Facebook, said in a blog.

“This inline menu lets you know who can see this part of your profile, and you can change it with one click,” he said.

“This dropdown menu will be expanding over time to include smaller groups of people you may want to share with, like co-workers, Friend Lists you’ve created, and Groups you’re a member of. These will make it easy to quickly select exactly the audience you want for any post,” Cox said.

The social networking company allows users to identify other Facebook users in photos or posts on the site by ‘tagging’ them. The tag labels the pictures or posts with pop-up captions to enable people who view the photos to identify other Facebook users in the shot by hovering their mouse over the content.

Previously only users’ friends could add tags about them, but the changes mean non-friends will also be able to add this information, Cox said. Under the changes users will be able to control whether tags about them appear on their own profile page, Cox said. Previously tagged pictures appeared on users’ profile page without needing their approval.

“One of the top requests we’ve heard is for the ability to approve these tags before they show up on your profile,” Cox said.

“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,” Cox said.

Cox said users will have the “option to review and approve or reject any tag someone tries to add to your photos and posts”.

Users will also be able to change who can see comments they post after they have been published, Cox said.

“You’ll be able to change who can see any post after the fact,” Cox said. “If you accidentally posted something to the wrong group, or changed your mind, you can adjust it with the inline control at any time,” he said.

The changes will also allow users to alter how others view their profile, Cox said.

Cox said that the changes will start to be implemented “in the coming days” and that the company hopes the “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”.

Facebook has come in for criticism over its privacy controls in the past. In June privacy campaigners complained when the company said users would have to opt-out if they did not want it to use facial recognition technology to find them in photos.

Simon Davies, head of Privacy International, said Facebook had been “shamed” into action by Google, according to a report by the Financial Times. Earlier this year the search engine giant launched its Google+ social network which has won plaudits for the way it allows users to control the privacy of their information.

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