Privacy issues continue to plague Facebook. Most recently it was facial-recognition technology that landed the social Relevant Products/Services-networking darling in the hot seat with privacy advocates.
Still, Facebook is once again up at the plate, looking to hit a privacy home run with watchdogs and consumers alike while still encouraging the ever-important sharing that drives the social network Relevant Products/Services.
On Thursday, Facebook will introduce yet another set of privacy changes that aim to make it easier to share posts, tags and other content with the people you want. Facebook is working to help people better understand, visually, who can see what they post.
"The main change is moving most of your controls from a settings page to being in-line, right next to the posts, photos and tags they affect," said Chris Cox, vice president of product at Facebook. "Your profile should feel like your home on the web -- you should never feel like stuff appears there that you don't want, and you should never wonder who sees what's there."
To that end, Facebook user profiles are getting some new tools that hope to give members clearer, more consistent controls over how photos and posts get added to it, and who can see everything that lives there.
For example, photos in which users are tagged now show up on their profile as soon as they are tagged. Users can choose to use a new tool to approve or reject any photo or post in which they are tagged before it's visible to anyone else on their profile.
Facebook also is allowing an option to review and approve or reject any tag someone tries to add to photos and posts. And a new "view profile as" button lets users see how others see their profiles.
"In addition to the profile changes, it will now be more visually straightforward to understand and control Relevant Products/Services who can see your posts at the time you share them," Cox said. "We're also broadening the functionality of the sharing tool: Now if you want to make your posts more expressive, we've made it simple to add location and tag the people you're with."
Opt In, Opt Out
Will the changes appease the masses?
Brad Shimmin, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, said Facebook could run into the same old problems it has faced in previous privacy change rollouts As he sees it, Facebook is going about the privacy changes the wrong way -- again.
"Facebook is making everyone opt in, in order to make a change to their privacy settings, rather than making these new rules standard and letting people who don't want the changes opt out," Shimmin said. "People are asking for more privacy, but with these changes you have to go in and specify that you want to be less exposed."
There's another danger: Too many Facebook alerts. By opting for individual alerts every time someone tags users in content, Facebook members may get warning weary and shut off the alerts. In the end, they lose out on the benefit of the privacy protection.
"I can see how this approach could be problematic in the long term with so many alerts," Shimmin said. "Remember when Vista came out? When you opened a web page you had to say yes to like four different questions. People became so immune that they just turned them off because they were tired of saying yes."