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Facebook plays catch-up to Google+’s Privacy Settings, Google+ Should Worry

Facebook is in the process of updating its privacy settings, which is probably the most criticized issue Facebook has encountered. The improvements have been organized around two broad areas: privacy settings on your profile and on new things you share.

Facebook is in the process of updating its privacy settings, which is probably the most criticized issue Facebook has encountered. The improvements have been organized around two broad areas: privacy settings on your profile and on new things you share.

Facebook recently made the announcement over at its official blog. But, interestingly and tactfully enough, Big Blue made no mention of its rising competitor, Google+. It is quite possible that these updates have been in the works for some time, but I’d be wary of a complete disregard to Google+ having zero influence on the matter.

Profile Privacy

The goal of the changes is to make privacy settings more understandable and remove the series of confusing clicks to find the settings. A large part of the changes revolve around moving privacy controls right next to the things they affect: anything from a status update to a tagged photo. Now, content on your profile will have an icon next to it and a drop-down menu that lets you easily and immediately change who can view this part of your page.

Another change to your profile fixes issues surrounding tagged photos and posts. Instead of tags being immediately visible, users have the option to approve what they are tagged in before it can be seen on their page. Additionally, users are able to approve or reject tags of other people on their own photos and posts as well. The option to “View Profile As…” has been moved to the top of the profile so it is easier to find as well.

Sharing Settings

Moving on from profile privacy, Facebook has made it easier to control what posts are visible to whom. This control is displayed right inline with each post and is probably the update that counters advantages of Google+ the most. Like Google+’s Circles, you’ll be able to share with a specific audience: whether it is everyone or a List of a small number of people. Furthermore, you will also be able to adjust which audience can see the post after the post has been made.

What’s more, locations can now be added to anything, including status updates, Wall posts, and photos. This is the beginning of removing the less-than-stellar, Facebook Places that failed to takeoff and compete with Foursquare. Lastly, removing tags will also involve more options due to different motivations. For instance, you can simply remove the tag by itself, or you can send a request for the complete removal of the post from Facebook. This is a great way to eliminate the need to Chat, call, or text your friend to remove something.

For the Future

Personally, I’m excited for these new features to be coming to Facebook. Google+ had a superior advantage in controlling what was visible and to whom. Now, Facebook has completely evened the playing field. The competition from Google+ has definitely been a benefit for social media users as it has driven competition and innovation that purely makes the user experience better.

It remains to be seen how Google+ will react to this update. In the future, and I’m sure it’s being worked on now, I’d like to see Facebook update its Lists to combat Circles and I’d also like the user interface to be cleaner. 

What do you think of the updates to Facebook’s privacy settings? Was anything missed? 

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Friday, 07 August 2020
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