Facebook is announcing a handful of privacy-related changes today; a couple that make it simpler for users to access and change their personal settings and another that may make a small percentage of the user base upset (what's new, right?).
First up, Facebook is adding a privacy shortcut tab that follows users around as they explore the site. The new privacy shortcut will appear on the right of the top header, next to your name, profile picture, "home" button and settings button. The shortcuts menu will feature things like "who can see my stuff," and "who can contact me." The shortcut will make is easier for users to quickly choose who gets to see their content.
Facebook is also improving the Activity Log to make it easier for users to interact with all the information that is being shared and what is showing up on their Timelines and friends' news feeds.
"The updated Activity Log has new navigation, so you can easily review your own activity on Facebook, such as your likes and comments, photos of you, and posts you’ve been tagged in. It also has new ways to sort information, for example: Now you can quickly see public photos you're tagged in and have hidden from your timeline, but which still appear in other places on Facebook," says Facebook.
Users also have the ability to manage photo removal requests for large sets of photos they are taged in. The new tool within the Activity Log also lets users untag multiple photos at the same time.
Another big change involves third-party apps. Facebook is turning the single permission into two separate permissions. Now apps must ask users for the ability to grab their personal info separately from asking them to be allowed to post on their behalf. This will go into effect for most apps - but some like games apps on Facebook.com will not require the two-stage app permission.
There's also been a little bit of a language shift within the permissions. Instead of asking to access a user's "basic info," it now asks to access their "public profile and friend list."
All of these changes will go into effect by year's end, according to Facebook. Since all of them improve the visibility of privacy controls, most users will probably be ok with them. One change that users may not initially warm to is this: Facebook is getting rid of the ability for users to disallow their name from appearing when users searched it in the serach bar. Here's what they have to say:
Facebook started as a directory service for college students, and today we offer a whole variety of services, such as news feed, photo uploads and mobile messaging. As our services have evolved, our settings have, too.
Everyone used to have a setting called "Who can look up my timeline by name," which controlled if someone could be found when other people typed their name into the Facebook search bar. The setting was very limited in scope, and didn't prevent people from finding others in many other ways across the site.
Because of the limited nature of the setting, we removed it for people who weren’t using it, and have built new, contextual tools, along with education about how to use them. In the coming weeks, we’ll be retiring this setting for the small percentage of people who still have it.
Although Facebook says that they're nixing this feature because nobody really used it, you can't help but think about the possibility of Facebook search whenever the company does something to improve their own search results.
This is a pretty significant stir to Facebook's privacy stew. This big announcement comes on the heels of Facebook's latest (and last) Site Governance vote, in which the company adopted new proposed policy changes involving the sharing of info with affiliates, as well as the ability for users to vote on future site changes.