Facebook announced today that they have updated their privacy settings in a move to allow users greater control over what they put onto the site.
Users Should Understand How To Control Their Information
The Chief Privacy Officer for Facebook told the BBC that they wanted their users to be able to understand how to control their information and have the best experience.
Apparently we will see a new icon on the toolbar which is accessible wherever we are in Facebook. It will ask:
Who can see my stuff?
Who can contact me?
How do I stop someone from bothering me?
This should be much more helpful for those who struggle with issues and are concerned that too much of their information is public. Pete Cashmore of Mashable has published some images of what these will look like.
Explanation Within Products
There will be an explanation whenever you post something of where it will appear and the ramifications of other people's privacy settings upon the visibility of that user's information to others in timelines, search, newsfeeds and search. Again, a good thing.
More control over tagging
You will now be able to request removal of tags by direct message, as well as going to a tab to select multiple photos to untag on their page. Apparently there will also be a one button blocking facility to get rid of stalkers and troublemakers.
Third party apps
These have long been a bugbear of mine - the fact that you cannot use one without giving them access to all your personal information AND allowing them to post on your wall. In future, these will be separate permissions.
Improved Activity Logs
The activity log is situated on your personal profile under the cover image and to the right of the Update Info button. It lists the things that you have posted on Facebook, along with a resume of the permissions involved and so the visibility. It will be interesting to see how the improvements pan out.
But of course the real thing that everyone is chattering about is the possibility that these new changes are a precursor to Facebook's attempt to really get into Search. I spoke about their current paltry efforts before and commented that, currently, you cannot guarantee to be able to find a page that you visit every day by using the search facility.
You can't hide from Facebook Search now
The Bits Blog of the NY Times quotes Sam Lessin, Facebook's Director of Product, who said that they were retiring the ability to 'hide from Facebook's search facility' which had previously existed in the privacy settings on a personal profile - something which was only used by a very small percentage of their users.
And I was one of those users - because I didn't want subscribers after an unpleasant incident with potential cyber bullying, I had removed the facility for people to subscribe to me and I had unchecked the box that allowed people to search for me by name. Thanks, as usual to Shawn Abel for helping me to make sense of Facebook's rabbit warren.