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.