Facebook Changes Privacy Controls
December 12, 2012

Facebook Changes Privacy Controls, Policies Again

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Throughout its history, Facebook has never been known to make it easy for their users to make adjustments to their privacy settings. Making matters worse, Facebook changes these privacy policies a few times a year, making it difficult for the users to keep track of what´s being shared, as well as understand what Facebook plans to do with this information.

Today, Facebook is announcing even more changes to their privacy policies, as well as a new way for users to access and change their privacy settings, hopefully making it easier for these users to control what is and isn´t seen on the social site.

Now, users will be able to access their privacy settings via a privacy “shortcut” in the upper-right hand portion of their screen. From here, they´ll be able to determine who can see their photo and status updates, as well as what other pieces of information are shared with their networks. Facebook users will also be able to block certain users from viewing their profiles right from within this new shortcut.

According to Sam Lessin, Facebook´s director of product, this ability to block someone from within the shortcut is a helpful feature.

“There are a billion users and blocking is the ultimate way of saying I don´t want to interact with this person,” said Lessin in an interview with The New York Times´ Nick Bilton.

“We think blocking is really positive.”

In addition to allowing users the ability to choose who can see certain portions of their profiles, the Menlo Park social giant is also giving users higher control over their Activity Log.

For instance, if a “friend” posts a rather compromising picture of another user, that person will be able to remove their tag from that picture. Furthermore, users can remove their names from friends´ posts and even delete comments on their own posts, all from within the activity log.

True to Facebook´s style, while they´re touting these new changes as an effort to finally make privacy simple for its users, they´re also making each and every user viewable in search.

Until now, users had the option to hide themselves from search, meaning if an old boss or ex-lover went searching for this person on Facebook, their name would not show up in the results, effectively allowing a person to lay low on Facebook.

According to Lessin, a “single-digit percentage of users” chose to use this feature. Therefore, this simple feature will now be cast aside. As Bilton points out, even if only a single-digit percentage of users take advantage of this feature, getting rid of it potentially affects millions of people.

This isn´t the only time Facebook has used their size to their advantage.

Last week, Facebook announced they´d be making changes to some of their policies, including getting rid of a voting procedure which allowed Facebook users to vote and oppose any future changes.

According to the social network, only a small percentage of people turned out to vote in the past. Instead of holding a voting session, Facebook has said they´ll begin discussing issues which would have been voted on during regularly scheduled webcasts.

In order to keep the voting system, more than 30 percent of Facebook´s users would have had to vote in favor of the old system. While 30 percent sounds generous enough, 30 percent of 1 billion is still a very large number.

Less than 700,000 voted on these changes once the polls had closed, killing Facebook´s voting system.