Science and Tech


Facebook To Offer 'Privacy Checkup' To Its Billion Users

In an effort to curb the criticism against its privacy settings, Facebook plans to implement "privacy check ups" for each of its 1.28 billion users.
Posted at 1:23 PM, May 22, 2014

Your next visit to Facebook could start with a visit to the doctor — a privacy doctor. The social network will begin rolling out “privacy check-ups” to its 1.28 billion users in response to longstanding pressure from users and privacy advocates alike.

Facebook said in a statement Thursday,

“We want to do all we can to put power and control in people’s hands. This new tool is designed to help people make sure they are sharing with just the audience they want.” (Via Facebook)

Don’t let the blue dinosaur fool you. Facebook’s privacy policy isn’t child’s play, but the company hopes an expanded check-up will calm the critics who have called Facebook’s privacy settings “difficult”.

​Privacy Product Manager Mike Nowak told TechCrunch he knows the sting of “hitting reply all” on an email and says, “We think oversharing is worse than under sharing." (Via TechCrunch)

A few updates follow the check-up. The first: any post will automatically share to “Friends Only” instead of a “Public” audience.  Any changes to this setting will prompt the user with an “are you sure” message, which explains a public post can be viewed by anyone on the Internet.  

Facebook will roll out Anonymous Login. The feature will allow users to log in to apps via their Facebook credentials, but share no information.

These new privacy features come at a time when Mark Zuckerberg’s network faces competition from privacy-friendly apps such as Snapchat and newly introduced secret-sharing apps such as Whisper.

That same reasoning prompted him to sweep up messaging agent WhatsApp earlier this year for $19 billion in cash and stock.

Even as it scales back sharing, The New York Times says some of Facebook’s other ventures are pushing the limits of privacy.

Particularly, the company’s latest gadget for mobile phones which “listens in” to the user’s surroundings and tags music or TV shows nearby.

As HLN reports, Facebook also made headlines this week when it introduced the “Ask” button. The feature pops up next to the relationship status of users who’d rather not share.  The Washington Post called it an “unabashedly nosey new feature that no one asked for and -- we can only hope - no one will use." (Via The Washington Post) (Via HLN)

Those missteps aside, The Times also reports Facebook wants to develop a clear-cut privacy dashboard where its users can enable or disable privacy settings with one click.