Facebook’s new privacy changes bring the battle to Google+

24 Aug 2011

Facebook has announced a slew of changes that it says make it easier for users to have greater control over how they share posts, photos, tags and other content as well as new privacy changes that allow them to decide if they want to be tagged in a photo or a post.

Facebook’s latest changes bring it fully up to date in terms of controls that newly arrived rival Google+ has with its Circles capability.

And it appears Facebook is endeavouring to avoid the mistakes it made in the past by trying to better communicate changes to its privacy rules and what better way than to bring privacy settings right to the front and in the moment the user is posting something.

Time will tell if these new settings will function smoothly to provide users with greater control over their online persona and privacy or if they will prove difficult and complicated.

A lock button that has already existed right beside the sharing widget has been made more prominent and the word “everyone” for each post’s privacy setting has been changed to ‘public’ so users get a greater sense of what they are doing with each post.

Inline controls

Effectively Facebook is moving most of the controls that would have sat inside your settings to the front so users can decide there and then what is happening with their content. Facebook says it wants users to treat their profile “like your home on the web” and information like hometwon, latest photo album, etc, will appear next to an icon with a drop down menu to let users decide who can see what.

Profile Tag Review

Until now photos users were tagged in would appear in a user’s profile as soon as you were tagged. Now with the new controls users have the ability to approve these tags before they show up in their profile. Users now have the ability to approve or reject any photo or post you are tagged in before it’s visible to anyone else on your profile.

Content Tag Review

The same also applies to posts other users may have tagged you in. In the past it would appear in your profile but now users can reject any tag someone tries to add to your photos and posts.

Profile preview

Facebook said that user feedback showed them people wanted  to know what their profile looked like to others but this tool was behind the scenes.  This tool is now on the top of your profile where it’s easier to access.


In addition to the profile changes, it will now be more visually straightforward to understand and control who can see your posts at the time you share them. “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,” Facebook said in its blog.

Inline controls

Now when users make a post the control for who can see each post will be  right beside the post  button and users can decide whether they want to make their post public, avialble to friends or they can customise the post settings.

“This dropdown menu will be expanding over time to include smaller groups of people you may want to share with, like co-workers, Friend Lists you’ve created, and Groups you’re a member of. These will make it easy to quickly select exactly the audience you want for any post.”

Change Your Mind

In the past after users made a post they couldn’t change who could see it, but now  under the new settings users can adjust the post after the fact with the new inline controls.

New tagging capabilties

Until now users could only tag someone if you were friends with them, and you could only tag a Page if you had liked it. Under the new settings users can add tags of friends or anyone else on Facebook. If you are ever tagged by a non-friend, it won’t appear on your profile unless you review and approve the post.

Phasing out of mobile-only location ‘check-ins’

Location had so far been a mobile-only experience but under the new settings users can add location information to anything via a status update, wall post or photo upload.

Facebook says the changes will start to roll out in the coming days. When they reach users they’ll see a prompt for a tour that will walk them through the new features.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years