What You Need to Know About Facebook's New Privacy Settings

Facebook is rolling out three changes to its privacy settings, activity log and photos. Here's what you need to know and how the updates to the social network affect you.

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Thu, December 13, 2012

CIO — Facebook announced that its rolling out a handful of changes to the social network at the end of the year. Looking to help you better manage its privacy and security settings (which have been time-consuming and confusing to use), Facebook is adding privacy shortcuts, a tool for managing multiple photos in which you're tagged and new navigation in the activity log.

Facebook Product Manager Samuel Lessin says these changes were made to give you more transparency and help you better understand who can see the things you share.

"We continue to strive toward three main goals: bringing controls in context where you share, helping you understand what appears where you use Facebook, and providing tools to help you act on content you don't like," he says.

While some of these changes—in particular the new privacy shortcut—are a step in the right direction, according to Naked Security blogger Lisa Vaas, some miss the mark.

Here's an in-depth look at Facebook's major changes and what it all means for you.

Facebook's New Privacy Shortcut

Facebook's privacy settings have never been easy to navigate. But a new privacy shortcut the social network is rolling out aims to easily direct you to answers to three common questions: Who can see my stuff? Who can contact me? How do I stop someone from bothering me?

By the end of the year, you'll see a new icon between your Home and Settings. Click the lock icon to view the drop-down menu, and select the option for the setting you want to change.

Facebook's new privacy shortcut is a positive change, Vaas says.

"Up until now, tweaking privacy and timeline controls required you to stop what you were doing and navigate through a separate set of pages. In the best of all possible worlds, the ease of access to Facebook privacy controls would increase their use," she says. "That's good. It's hard to imagine their use getting worse, at any rate."

Facebook's New App Permissions

Facebook is also tweaking the permissions you see when you install a new app. Traditionally, you were prompted to give permission to use your information to personalize your experience and to post to Facebook, all on the same screen.

Soon, these two permissions will appear in separate windows so you can better control what you share. For example, you can grant an app the capability to read your public profile and friends list to personalize your experience, but decline to allow it to post your activity on your behalf.

[How Secure Are Your Facebook Apps?]

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