Facebook's New Privacy Controls: Simpler, Easier
Facebook is now giving its users simpler, easier privacy controls.
The changes, announced on Wednesday, are all about putting control at the tip of users' fingers—and making it so obvious that they can't complain that privacy is complicated or opaque. This is quite a reversal from the company's big push for "frictionless sharing" of everything from what songs users listened to on Spotify or what articles they read on WashingtonPost.com.
The social network, which has been dogged by privacy concerns for years, finalized a settlement with the FTC over these very issues in August.
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The good news for Facebook users: New controls, called Privacy Shortcuts, give quick control over who can see everything—a quick click changes who can see posts. And now it's equally easy to block individuals from making contact.
"You can just go to the tool bar to manage 'Who can see my stuff?' 'Who can Contact me?' and 'How do I stop someone from bothering me?'" Samuel Lessin, Facebook's head of product said in a blog.
Facebook is now offering very simple granular control over who can see your activity with an Activity Log. Here's how it works—when something is added to your timeline by a friend, it let's users know so they can review, delete, or hide for certain groups of friend.
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The bad news for Facebook users who want to keep a low profile: Users can no longer hide themselves in Facebook search. Until now, one feature in privacy settings—called "Who can look up my timeline by name"—allowed users to hide themselves in search so they'd only receive friend requests from friends of friends.
But Lessin argued in his blog that it "didn't prevent people from finding others in many other ways across the site." He said for the "small percentage of people who still have it"—that translates to tens of millions of Facebook's billion user base—the site is offering "new contextual tools" and "education about how to use them."
This is a sign of Facebook's growing interest in boosting its search business and search revenue.
(Read More: Facebook's New Plan to Grow Revenue.)
Why is it important that people can't hide themselves? Because if Facebook is going to be a search powerhouse, it needs to have complete information. Yes, it'll let users block someone from contacting after they're found via search, but the search engine needs to show everyone who's there.
—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin; Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin