A new, required configuration of privacy preferences is being presented on Facebook. The changes were announced on December 1, but they are now official for all of Facebook’s 350 million users. The announcement came this morning in the Facebook Press Room.
The new controls will let users choose exactly with whom they want to share everything they put on the site. This includes status updates, photos, videos, links, and more. Options for sharing includes Friends, Friends of Friends, Everyone, and a custom option to choose specifically who can and can’t see the item.
For some time now, Facebook users have been able to create friends lists to group friends into categories. This can now be used as a fast way to filter content so that only those you wish to share certain things with will see them. Now your “Japanese Poetry” list doesn’t have to be subjected to your “Heavy Metal RAWKS” list postings.
Regional networks have been nixed, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced would happen last week. Some information is being made public, whether you like it or not, but that is limited mainly to your front-screen profile information (such as name and gender). The new changes mean the overly-complex privacy controls that were once the butt of blog jokes are now much simpler while giving users more individual control.
Some mandatory privacy settings include setting your default (which is likely currently at “everyone”) for who your content will be shared with. You will be required to verify your current privacy settings for your profile as well as set defaults for your future content additions to Facebook. Those under 18 years of age will be restricted to sharing only with friends and school networks.
There is some information, however, that you can’t hide. Your name, profile picture, gender, city, networks you belong to, friends list, and fan pages will all be available to everyone. This information is kept public mainly to make Facebook search more useful to users. You have the option of not including some of this in your profile, of course. All of this public information is also accessible by search engines like Bing and Google.
Overall, the changes on Facebook are comprehensive, but give a lot more power to the individual user. This is a big step for the popular social network, whose been plagued by privacy concerns and questions in the past.