Facebook Finally Gets Privacy Right

Facebook has long been criticised for its poor privacy practices; particularly when it comes to default settings for new users. Well, it seems the social networking giant is finally paying attention to its customers -- over the next few weeks, it will be rolling out a revamped 'privacy checkup' tool and tighter default settings for new members. Here are the changes in full.

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Moving forward, all new Facebook users will be given an updated privacy default which only allows friends to see their posts. Previously, the default was set to 'Public'. This translated to hundreds or even thousands of strangers having the potential to see your posts and photos.

New members will now receive a reminder to choose an audience for their first post. If they don’t make a choice and simply close the window, it will revert to friends only. The same privacy setting is already in place for teenagers, but it is now the standard default for everyone who uses Facebook. (About time!)

"While some people want to post to everyone, others have told Facebook that they are more comfortable sharing with a smaller group, like just their friends," Facebook explained in a statement.

"Facebook recognises that it is much worse for someone to accidentally share with everyone when they actually meant to share just with friends, compared with the reverse."

In addition to the updated privacy default, Facebook is also revamping its privacy checkup tool. This is a guided wizard that takes users through their privacy settings and gives them the opportunity to review who they are currently posting to, which apps they use and the privacy of key pieces of information on their profile.

Facebook will also be introducing further privacy initiatives including public posting reminders (an occasional alert for people who are posting publicly to make sure they are sharing with the audience they want), a simplified audience selector for Facebook's web and iOS interface, an Anonymous Login mode which lets you use Facebook apps without sharing any personal information and a redesigned app control panel which makes it easier to manage specific permissions.

We're still not sure why it took Facebook so long to roll out these privacy improvements -- especially seeing as the code was already up and running for teenage users. Nevertheless, we think you will agree that it's a welcome change (unless you're a stalker, natch).

You can find out more information about the changes on the Facebook Newsroom page.


    But their "previous posts" tool is still broken, in that you can only limit past posts to Friends only. If you've made some posts and shared them with a group with only you in it (e.g. you're using Facebook like a diary or a place to vent), you can't use the limit past posts tool or else your private ramblings become visible to your friends.

    While it's a start, I still can't say "Facebook" and "privacy" in the same sentence without giggling.

      better off using a blog to vent like that ...

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