Facebook is making a sweeping set of changes to its privacy and sharing policies that will give users much more control over the information they share and who they share it with.See our guided tour of the changes→
The changes seem like an answer to Google+ and its concept of Circles, which makes it easy to share particular content with specific groups rather than all your friends at once.
However, Facebook product manager Kate O’Neill says Facebook started planning these changes long before Google+ rolled out — “we wish we could work that fast,” she said, referring to the launch of Google+ in June.
Maybe. But Facebook knew about Google’s plans last year, so it’s hard to imagine that the company made these changes in a vacuum.
The big changes:
- Control who sees each post. Each time you post, a dropdown menu will appear to the right of the post and will let you control who you want to share the post with. At first, this menu will contain the same categories that you can get to through the Settings menu today — “Public” (formerly called “Everyone” — Facebook is changing the name), “Friends,” and “Friends of Friends.” But eventually it will include other Facebook Groups you’ve joined. In other words, it’s a lot like Google+ Circles.
- You can change who can see updates AFTER you post them. If you change your mind and don’t want your mum to know that you got falling-down drunk at a party last night, you can go back and change the sharing settings on that status update. That’s new — before, once you put it out there, it was out there forever.
- More control over people tagging you. Today, whenever somebody tags you in a photo, an indication of that tag appears on your wall. With the new settings, you’ll be able to see who’s tagging you and ask them not to tag you, or even send a message to the photo-owner asking them to take the photo down. Similarly, whenever somebody wants to add a tag a photo you’ve posted, you’ll have an easy way to block that tag, block all tags, or take down the photo entirely.
- Facebook is also letting you share location info for any post you make, and add location to posts in the past. For instance, if you took a bunch of pictures on a trip to London, you can tag them after the trip is done. Previously, the location feature was only available on the mobile version of Facebook, and only let you tag from the location you were in.
- The mobile “Places” feature is being phased out, although similar functionality will be available from the new version of the mobile app. You can add your location through a normal status update.
The whole set of fixes is pretty complicated, so Facebook is doing a bunch of user education — for instance, interactive tutorials will appear next to each new feature as it’s added to your home page.