Facebook Adds Privacy Settings Reflecting Google+

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Facebook does not worry about the “other social network” but new privacy changes look similar to Google+

Facebook will be rolling out a number of security and privacy features which will make the social networking site more like Google+.

The social networking giant announced a “bunch of improvements that make it easier to share posts, photos, tags and other content with exactly the people you want”, according to a post on the Facebook Blog. The changes will be rolling out to users “in the coming days”.

Block And Confirm Capabilities

The new changes are intended to make it easier to limit shared items to certain groups and see at a glance what people can see. They are very similar to what is already available on the more privacy-conscious Google+.

“Although they’ve denied it, there can’t be any doubt that the launch of Google+ may have influenced some of the design decisions here,” Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, wrote on the Naked Security blog.

Most of Facebook’s granular privacy controls are generally hard to find buried behind layers of menu options. That is no longer the case as the main change involves moving the privacy controls out of the settings page to being inline for ease of access, Chris Cox, Facebook’s vice president of product, wrote on the Facebook Blog.

“You have told us that ‘Who can see this?’ could be clearer across Facebook, so we have made changes to make this more visual and straightforward,” wrote Cox.

Going forward, each post and photo will have a privacy control alongside it, making it more obvious as to who would be able to see the content.  While there was a grey lock icon next to wall posts that allowed users to restrict their sharing options, the new inline controls would be more obvious as a big blue button.

Further Controls Will Be Added

The new controls are “like how Google+ operates, with users being able to choose at the time of post exactly which individuals or groups of friends (known within Google+ as “circles”) they wish to share information with”, wrote Cluley.

The dropdown menu will expand over time to include user-defined Friend Lists, Co-workers and Groups, Cox said.

The same inline controls will also be available on user profiles. Every single profile element, such as favourite music, books, address, phone number, employer and school, can be individually tweaked to display to everyone, limited to friends, or to a customised list.

“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,” Cox said.

Facebook has also added a “View Profile As…” button to the top of the user’s profile to get a feel for how the page looks to others, similar to a feature currently available on the “other” social network. This option was previously buried within the site’s privacy settings.

Another Google+-like change is a terminology change. Facebook will change the “everyone” setting to show “Public”. The change would convey that it meant “everyone, everywhere on the Internet, forever”, Cluley said.

Photo Tagging Controls

Facebook will allow users some control over which photos they are tagged in showing up on their profile pages. Users can choose a privacy setting that will require them to approve every photo and video as they are tagged in before any of it can appear on the profile pages.

If a user rejects being tagged in a photo or video, Facebook will give the user an option to simply remove the tag, ask the person to remove the content, or block the person.

Photo-tagging is one of the “most unpopular elements of the site”, according to feedback received by Naked Security. “Users would like the ability to block anyone from tagging them in photographs without their express permission, rather than simply blocking the photo from appearing on their profile,” Cluley wrote.

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