Facebook Tightens Privacy Protections

Category: Facebook

Privacy activists have long pilloried Facebook for foisting excessively confusing and, some say, deceptive “privacy” settings upon users. Facebook blew them off for a long time, disingenuously claiming that it just gives users “options.” But market forces have caught up with the social media giant at last. Here's what Facebook is doing to improve privacy within their service...

Facebook Rolls Out New Privacy Controls

Young people don’t trust Facebook; they’ve been leaving it in droves and refusing to share, giving Mark Zuckerberg less and less places to hang his ads and fewer tidbits of personal data to sell to direct marketers. You know your social media site is in trouble when the over-50 demographic is growing faster than the valuable 18-24 year olds.

So finally, Facebook is rolling out simplified, more obvious, and more honest privacy features. Here are five of them:

Additional photo settings: profile and cover photos have been public by default, even after you change them. Soon, Facebook will let you restrict access to cover photos; profile pics’ sharing has always been under users’ control, although changing it has not been intuitive.

Facebook Privacy Dinosaur

Mobile share settings: the button for restricting sharing of a mobile upload has been hidden under the icon that leads to your general privacy settings, so many users don’t know it exists. That button is getting moved to a more prominent position in Facebook’s mobile app, in a new “TO” field that makes it even more obvious that you need to make a decision before hitting “upload.”

New user sharing defaults have been “public.” Now newbies will share only with Friends, which they won’t have for a little while. Facebook will also alert newbies to select a sharing category for their first post instead of letting them bumble into “public” on their own.

The “privacy dinosaur” will be rolled out universally. This blue Barney-like critter is the symbol of Facebook’s “privacy checkup” app that helps make users aware of all their privacy settings. The privacy dinosaur will also warn you when you are about to post publicly; it remains to be seen how easily you can restrict access to a post while composing it.

Third-party apps will have to offer an “anonymous login” option after Facebook updates its app-development toolkit. Anonymous login lets a third-party app access your Facebook account to do its thing without sharing your username and profile data or those of your friends.

Is It Enough?

"We want to do all we can to put power and control in people's hands," Facebook said. No, they don’t, but they are doing so reluctantly and slowly. Facebook has heard the sound of millions of millenials clicking the "cancel my account" button. But it’s getting done at last.

It remains to be seen if it's too late to repair Facebook’s sinister reputation for in-your-face pushiness into things users don’t want to share. In the past, Facebook has been sued for making public certain things marked private, allowed access to content on deactivated accounts, and angered many users by using their profile pictures in advertising. Some will undoubtedly scoff at ANY privacy controls offered by the social media giant, on the presumption that Facebook will just go ahead do what they want, without regard to those privacy promises.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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This article was posted by on 30 May 2014

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Most recent comments on "Facebook Tightens Privacy Protections"

Posted by:

30 May 2014

Frankly, I wouldn't trust Facebook if they told me that water is wet. However, I personally think that it's my own responsibility to take precautions regarding privacy when dealing with social media. That's not to say that Facebook is free to do whatever they please, but neither should I rely on them to maintain my privacy.

Posted by:

30 May 2014

"...Some will undoubtedly scoff at ANY privacy controls offered by the social media giant, on the presumption that Facebook will just go ahead do what they want, without regard to those privacy promises."

Bears repeating. I de-activated and it didn't hurt near as bad as quitting cigarettes! I wouldn't trust facebook as far as I could throw them.

Posted by:

top squirrel
30 May 2014

I don't have a Facebook account, never had one and despite asking friends (who told me I "gotta" have one), can't find anything I can do with an account that's worth doing that I couldn't do without one. And without all the hassles and privacy concerns.
I recall the cover story on Mark Zuckerberg in TIME's "Man of the Year" feature a few years back quoted something Zuckerberg wrote in an email that I'm sure he would like everybody to forget, but which I suspect reflects his true feelings about the people who signed up in the early days: "They trust me, dumb fucks."

Posted by:

30 May 2014

Like, I guess, a lot of your subscribers both in the US and worldwide who are or approaching septuagenarians I've always been a tad leery about face book’s privacy constraints though because my kids and grand-kids use it I find it excellent way to keep up with what's going on in their lives particularly due to the physical remoteness of our respective locales.

However recently I've become ...well somewhat alarmed how others have seemed to invaded my daughter’s Facebook postings with stuff that has little or no interest to me with the result that I no longer leave any personal comments that I used to and use more private means of communication.

Posted by:

30 May 2014

It remains to be seen how this works out.
I have a Facebook account that I keep for those just-in-case times. I thought I had my profile tied down as tight as I could get it. But today I received notice that I was ignoring a friend request. Turned out to be someone I'd never even heard of. Rather than click on the "unsubscribe" button in the email, I signed into Facebook and found a lot of info about my life (that I don't remember ever adding)was publicly available, from where I live and work to where I went to high school and college. I've just gone through all the privacy settings ONCE MORE and set everything to the highest level of privacy. Let's see how long these settings hold. I deactivated my first Facebook account when I found it useless. I started this new one a few years ago for those odd times that I might need it. But I may just need to deactivate the darned thing again.

Posted by:

Marc de Piolenc
31 May 2014

None of this, of course, provides any privacy protection from Facebook itself. The only real privacy protection, now as before, is not to post anything that you would not want falling into the hands of somebody who hates you.

Posted by:

Harish Dobhal
31 May 2014

For me the most annoying thing with FB is how easily anyone can tag me in their photos. They do have 'review' of tags feature but I really don't want anybody, even my closest friends to tag me in their photos and then I keep getting the kind of message 'someone commented on a photo of yours'!

Frustrated, I had only one option - I warned those friends who tag me to not do it again and if they still did, I unfriended them. But this could have been not the case if FB had some prohibitive setting for this tagging nonsense.

Posted by:

31 May 2014

windows 8.1....... I have just upgraded to windows 8.1 every things seem fine until I try to turn on my Wi-Fi it wont let me plus I can fined or set my Wi-Fi up why, Is there something in windows 8.1 that deletes Wi-Fi's mmmmmm
Thanks Steve

Posted by:

31 May 2014

facebook is just another web to air ur stuff,some people just don't get it..r they don't know what to do,its very scarey out there ..I put out as little as possible on facebook..I don't give them info,u don't have too..its in ur hands how u deal with it,r ask someone that knows alittle more than u do...bob I like ur articles very informative..thank you..

Posted by:

31 May 2014

Bob ... Thank you, for this article. I haven't seen any of this news and I am grateful. I do agree, that FB is only doing this, because they have been "forced" into to making these changes, that really should have been put in place, at the very beginning.

I am a FB user, but, not addictive, like so many members are. I have a good many friends, who like their privacy, so, I shared this article on my FB page. You have information, that I know FB will not be sharing , in time soon. I honestly, hope you don't mind. Normally, in the past, I would have emailed my whole list ... But sadly, those days are gone. Oh, I still email, but, mostly for business. I don't even have a large email list, like I use to. Most people only want to use FB, since, it is so readily available on their Mobile Phones and Mobile Life.

While, I do have a SmartPhone, I still mainly use it, for calling someone, my Hubby mostly. I do like my Mobile Phone, makes grocery shopping, so much easier on me. Hubby refuses to go shopping with me, so, he stays at home and I can call him, to verify what I need. I have a "basic" list, but, sometimes I do see items that I didn't check out completely. Thankfully, he is ready to help me, by getting up and double checking things. I also, may see something, I think he may like and will call him, just to be sure.

I do NOT like to use FB on my SmartPhone!!! I just simply can NOT "text". It takes me too long and there are at least 5 to 10 responses, before I can make mine! I prefer to FB, on my home desktop computer, where I have a full keyboard and I can type better. Plus, I hate getting "Notifications" every 5 minutes or so. Bugs the heck, out of me. I guess, retirement has really settled in, with me. My Hubby and I love our quiet life and that it really is ... "Just the two of us." :)

Posted by:

01 Jun 2014

Bob, I am sorry to tell you but I hate facebook. I never liked facebook and lately facebook every
where. I hate the way facebook is putting pressure
on people who does not use facebook at all.

Bob once more I am very sorry but I hate facebook.

Posted by:

02 Jun 2014

I don't believe it. I stopped my daily use when they announced the last major privacy roll-out because I could not understand what the options meant. I don't see them being transparent and transparency is crucial.
I think the biggest problem is third party postings throughout the internet with your name attached.
Also I just no longer saw the importance of reading everyone's nonsensical rantings of minutia.

Posted by:

Diane Kahl
06 Jun 2014


Discovered your very informative website trying to find instructions for cleaning out Conduit malware downloaded from Windows 8.1 time management apps. Was becoming obsessive about all the Windows apps and trying them out. The malware stopped that little hobby, but I did discover your wonderful website through the "app trial-and-error phase."

As to Facebook, I have a few important overseas contacts for child and youth sponsorships which are the only reason I keep the FB account open.

Agree with former comments here that FB is a waste of time, invades privacy and sometimes dangerously, and along with Twitter and smart phones, has ruined interpersonal communication. People no longer call or email let alone write to communicate. They resort to shallow commenting on FB walls. Facebook has taken voyeurism and self-absorbed conceit to new levels.

Also recently disconnected smart phone and am using a much simpler Blackberry style Alcatel 871A phone, which doesn't have the bells and whistles of the smart phone but has a keyboard makes and receives calls and texts and has a calendar and memo. Also much less bulky to carry. Keep It Simple Stupid!

If I want the weather can look it up on home laptop or watch the old-school news on TV, same with news, Facebook, and research. Can check in with airlines the traditional way, can get retail product SKU numbers by (what a concept!) ASKING AN EMPLOYEE!

Anyone who does mobile banking IMHO is asking for serious breaches. Wish for the sake of the public that mobile banking were illegal.

Thank you again for your very informative website and newsletters helping us to protect ourselves!

You deserve a donation! I'll see where I can find a donation link on your website.

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