Facebook Reacts To Privacy Fears With Tightened Settings

Facebook has switched off a default privacy setting that for a long time has meant new users shared their posts with the entire online audience of the social network.

But from Thursday, the posts of new users will only be shared by default with their Facebook friends.


Facebook revealed the change to its default privacy setting in a blog post.

“While some people want to post to everyone, others have told us that they are more comfortable sharing with a smaller group, like just their friends,” said the posting. “So, going forward, when new people join Facebook, the default audience of their first post will be set to Friends. Previously, for most people, it was set to Public.”

“First time posters will also see a reminder to choose an audience for their first post, and if they don’t make a choice, it will be set to Friends,” said the company. “People can change who they are posting to at any time, and can also change the privacy of their past posts too.”

Facebook also acknowledged the ongoing privacy concerns of its users, worried about mistakenly sharing postings by accident, or with the wrong audience. To that end, Facebook said it would be rolling out a new and expanded privacy checkup tool over the next few weeks.

The privacy check tool will feature Facebook’s privacy mascot, which is a blue dinosaur that has been dubbed ‘Zuckersaurus’ (named after CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg). When users are making a public posting, it pops up to make sure they are sharing with the audience (Friends, Public etc) they want.

Facebook explained that the changes have a been result of feedback from users.

“Sometimes people have felt that they’ve been unpleasantly surprised that their information was more public than they expected or intended,” Mike Nowak, a Facebook product manager told Reuters. “The feedback that we received is that oversharing is worse than undersharing.”

Another change Facebook has implemented recently concerns its ‘Anonymous Login’ for third-party apps.

Since 2010, users of the social network had been able to log into third-party apps, but the company hopes that its ‘Anonymous Login’ option introduced last month will ease privacy concerns. This is because users can decide what personal information is shared with the app, when the Facebook ID is used to login into other apps.

Anonymity Rivals

Over the years, Facebook has faced consistent criticism over its privacy settings. Previous attempts to amend its privacy settings have resulted in a backlash from users and experts alike.

Mark Zuckerberg himself famously questioned the privacy issue, when he said that people no longer have an expectation of privacy thanks to increasing uptake of social networking.

That may have been its attitude back then, but now Facebook is facing the harsh reality of growing competition from rival social networks that offer more ways to stay out of the limelight.

Snapchat, Whisper, Vivaldi and Secret for example, allow anonymous postings that have become increasingly popular of late. And those social networks are often used by staff within tech firms in Silicon Valley, to leak information about forthcoming features and devices.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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