Here’s a challenge: Find a decent tech blog reporting on this week’s Facebook privacy and settings overhaul that made no mention on Google+. I tried, and I failed.
The reason is simple: Users want more control on who gets to see what they share. Facebook was doing it wrong. Google+ nailed it with Circles, a feature that sets it apart from Palo Alto.
Today, Facebook wants to reverse course by making major changes in both privacy settings and sharing options, and comparing them is natural.
Share Updates Only To The Right People
Facebook is changing this by using better labels. The lock symbol will now be replaced by labels such as “Public” and “Friends.” Sharing with a Friend List you’ve created will soon be a no-brainer:
This dropdown menu will be expanding over time to include smaller groups of people you may want to share with, like co-workers, Friend Lists you’ve created, and Groups you’re a member of. These will make it easy to quickly select exactly the audience you want for any post.
Inline Profile Controls
It’s easier to control who gets to see which part of your profile. Instead of editing your profile in one page and setting the privacy on another, you can now do both in the same place.
Photos Tag Review
The photo tagging feature has been abused mainly by two type of people: Cheapskate marketers looking for free publicity, and people who mistook the feature as a tool to notify friends of new-found funny pictures.
Going forward, you can opt to review photos you are tagged in before they get posted on your wall. Same goes for tags in status updates.
Also, you’ll be able to moderate tags added by your friends to photos you upload.
Location Goes Mainstream
Facebook is doing away with the whole “check-in” idea. Soon, you will be able to attach your location to status updates, photos and wall posts.
Previously a smartphone-only feature, the change makes it possible to add location from any device. In fact, Facebook will be phasing out the “Places” feature from its mobile apps.
View Profile As Someone Else, Edit Post Privacy After Posting, Tagging Non-Friends
If you are unsure whether you’ve set your profile’s privacy correctly, you can test it out by viewing it as one of your friends or anyone else. The button is now placed prominently on the top right corner of your profile.
Also, you can edit the privacy settings of your status updates even after they’re posted. Say you said something inappropriate about your boss without realizing you’ve added him as a friend. You can now quickly edit the post’s privacy settings and deny him the privilege of reading it.
Like Twitter, you can now tag any user or page on Facebook, even non-friends and pages that you did not like.
These new features will be rolled out gradually to all users beginning this week. Unlike other feature releases like video chat, there is nothing you can do to expedite the process.
Who’s the Copycat?
When Google+ first launched, most users were pleased by its unique features like Circles, Hangout and Huddle. Other than that, it works almost exactly like Facebook so inevitably, Google is being accused of copying.
On the other hand, some of the changes introduced by Facebook this week were said to be inspired by Google+, or an act of defense against the threat it poses.
Untrue, according to a Facebook VP (quoted from the WSJ):
Chris Cox, Facebook’s vice president for product, said his company had been working on the changes for the last six months based on longstanding user requests. “It is all about making it easier to share with exactly who you want and never be surprised about who sees something,” he said. Users should “never be surprised about who sees something.”
Mr. Cox said making privacy controls easier is “absolutely critical” to Facebook’s future success, but added the changes weren’t made in response to Google. “We are launching this now because it is ready,” he said.
Source: The Facebook Blog