Breaking Down the Latest Round Facebook Privacy Changes

January 11, 2013

Heads up, you secretive Facebook users who have made yourself unsearchable on the world’s most popular social networking platform: You can hide no more.


Facebook announced updated privacy features — again — recently, and one of the tweaks certain to draw some outrage is the elimination of that privacy control. There are, however, some changes that will likely be viewed in a positive light, including a one-click button with which users can block individuals from viewing their profile.

“There are a billion users and blocking is the ultimate way of saying I don’t want to interact with this person,” Sam Lessin, Facebook’s director of product, told the New York Times. “We think blocking is really positive.”

Other additions include a new suite of top-level controls called Privacy Shortcuts that lets users quickly change who can see their content and who can contact them through the site.

The changes are intended to address user complaints that Facebook’s privacy controls are confusing, charges that have only increased since it forced users to convert their profiles to the “Timeline” scrapbook-like layout.

But this latest round of revisions hasn’t satisfied every critic. Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told the Washington Post that he believes users still don’t have enough control of what they share and with whom and that this latest shift continues the company’s usual tendency to “change opt-ins to opt-outs, which means it’s easier to share data. And then they come back later and say they’re going to give clearer notices.”

Time will tell how these new changes are received – and how long it is until the company revamps its privacy features yet again, as they so often do. One this is for sure though – users won’t have any say anymore in what Facebook does. The company’s decision to change its privacy guidelines included a decision to no longer let users vote on Facebook policy changes.