Facebook New Privacy Setting Changes: an e-Safety perspective
In the next few days Facebook will be
rolling out changes to its privacy settings options to all users. Facebook
state that they believe the new privacy settings will offer more control to
users and will make managing personal data more visual and straightforward.
One of the key changes for users to be aware
of is that Facebook has changed some of the appearance, terminology and
language that it uses. The previous option in the Privacy Settings
"Everyone" is going to be replaced with "Public". This is
to clarify the fact to users that any content shared publicly can be seen by
anyone on the internet.
Some of these changes have some new benefits to users and will help to safeguard young people and professionals online. However these changes also
need to be carefully considered with an e-Safety perspective to ensure that all users are fully aware of the
options and choices provided by the new settings, as well as the potential impact to online privacy and safety.
New Changes to Profiles on Facebook
Facebook profiles are getting new tools that
give users clearer, more consistent controls over how photos and posts are
shared and who can see content.
New Inline Profile Controls
Content on Facebook profile, including work,
hometown and photo albums, will appear next to an icon and a drop-down menu.
This inline menu lets users know who can see this part of the profile, and it
can be changed with one click.
e-Safety impact: This change will be useful to help young people
consider their digital footprint and restrict access to different contacts. It
will also be useful to help professionals understand and maintain a
professional role online.
For more detail on the profile settings
New Profile and Content Review Tools
With the old privacy controls any photos or
content users are tagged in would show up on their profile as soon as they were
tagged, meaning users had limited control over who tagged them in images or
posts. With the new settings, users can choose to use a new tool to approve or
reject any photo or post they are tagged in before it's visible to anyone else
on their profile. Also with the old settings anyone who could see photos or
posts could add tags to them. With the new controls, users will have the
option to review and approve or reject any tag someone tries to add to any
photos and posts.
e-Safety perspective: Frequent complaints to the
e-Safety Officer are not about the content users themselves have uploaded,
rather the content their friends choose to share without consent. This new feature will give
users more control about who can see content they are tagged in by their
friends which should empower users to stay safe and be more aware of their own online persona.
Highlighted "View Profile As..." Option
For a while Facebook has had a useful
tool which enables users to check how their profile looked to other users but
this tool was hidden and many users didn't know how to find it. This tool
is now on the top of the profile and is easier to access.
e-Safety perspective: This will help users to be more aware of their digital footprint
and how different friends can view the content they share.
to Sharing Content on Facebook
In addition to the profile changes detailed
above, it will now be more straightforward to understand and control
who can see posts shared on Facebook. Facebook have broadening the
functionality of the sharing tool and made changes to make the settings earier to use visually.
New Inline controls
The control for who can see each post will
be inline with the post itself on the profile page. There is now an icon and label
to help make it easier to understand and decide what content to share with different audiences. Initally this will include
"Public", "Friends" or "Customise". When
someone is tagged, the audience label will automatically update to show that
the person tagged and their friends can see the post. The dropdown menu will
apparently be expanded over time to include smaller groups of people such as
co-workers, Friend Lists and Groups.
For a guided tour of these new controls, go
e-Safety perspective: This will enable users to be
more aware of how public the information they choose to post is and hopefully will encourage users to be more mindful about the content they share. Many users
(especially young people) were not aware that the option of "everyone" meant
content was shared with anyone who had access to the internet. Young people can also choose to share certain
posts or photos with different groups of friends or online contacts. This could be very useful for users who have hundreds of friends but only know a limited amount in the
real-world, as they can choose what content they share with different audiences in real-time and in a more user-friendly way. One possible risk is that it will now be easier for users to choose to hide unsuitable or inappropriate
content from certain contacts e.g. from their parents (for
young people) or from their colleagues (for professionals) which could be a concern in some cases.
Change Sharing Options For Content After You Post
With the old settings, once a user posted a
status update they then couldn't change who could see it. Now users will
be able to change who can see any post after the fact. If something is
accidentally posted to the wrong group, or a user changes their mind, they can
adjust it with the inline control at any time.
impact: This will help strengthen
users understanding of digital footprints and how the content we post nline leaves an imprint about us. It could potentially be misused to
cyberbully other users by posting content to annoy, upset or offend other users and then
changing it so only a limited number of people can view the content. It is
important that all users understand they need to take copies of cyberbullying
content (either as a print screen or printing the content out) to ensure it can
be used as evidence, even if the content is later removed or hidden.
New Options to Tag Locations in Posts
With the old settings, users could only
"check in" to locations using the Places feature on a smart phone.
Now users can add location to anything from anywhere, regardless of what device
they are using, or whether it is a status update, photo or Wall post. Users can
tag a location from a web browser on a computer or via a mobile app. Users can
also tag locations to photo albums or individual photos or videos. Users can
choose not to add location at all and can switch the feature off. As a
part of these changes, the mobile Places feature is being removed, and so are
the settings associated with it. If users are still using this feature, the
"Friends can check me in" setting will still apply, and users own
"checkins" will be seen by the audience selected in their default
More details about how location works
and the settings affected can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/about/location
e-Safety perspective: This is an especially
important feature to discuss with young people as they may not have been able
to share their excat location previously if they did not have access to a smart
phone, although it is important to remember that they have always been able to share their location via status updates, chat and private messages. Young people need to be fully aware of the possible risk of sharing a
location publicly and should be shown how to opt out of location sharing or shown how
to share their location with trusted real-life friends only. This new change may have a
higher risk for looked after or adopted children who may have no contact orders
or restrictions in place, so it is important that parents/carers discuss this with them.
Users can Tag Anyone on Facebook
With the old privacy setting options, users
could only tag someone if they were friends with them, and they could only tag
a Page if they had liked it. Users can now add tags of friends or anyone
else on Facebook even if they are not friends. If users are tagged by someone
who they are not friends with the tag won't appear on their profile unless they
review and approve the post.
e-Safety perspective: This could mean that young
people or professionals could be tagged by people they don't know or by people
they don't wish to be friends with e.g. a teacher could be tagged by a pupil at
an unsuitable location. However this risk is greatly reduced as users need to review
and approve tags which are made by users they are not friends with before they appear on their profile.
New Tools to Remove Tags or Content
With the new settings, users' options for
removing tags or content on Facebook are presented more clearly. Users will
have the option to confirm or remove their identity before a tag appears on
their profile. Enabling this option can be found in the "Manage How Tags
Work" section of the privacy settings as "Profile" or
"Tag" Review. Users can choose to set their privacy settings so that
friends can tag them without approval or can have more control as detailed
Once Tag/Profile Review is enabled,
users will be given options every time they are tagged in a photo or post on
Facebook. If users don't want to accept or confirm a tag request then the
- Remove the tag.
The post or content will still be on Facebook, but it will no longer be
linked to your profile.
- Send the owner of the post a message, asking them to remove the post or
content from Facebook.
- Report a post to Facebook. If the post is abusive, it will be removed.
- Block the owner of the post. All tags from this person will be removed, and you will no longer
be able to see or interact with each other on Facebook.
More details on tagging can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/about/tagging
e-Safety perspective: It is important that all
users are aware that this won't affect whether their friends can add a photo of
them, only whether their name is attached to it. The owner of the content
should be contacted to remove unwanted photos or content, or if the content is abusive
it should be reported to Facebook for removal. This feature could help to reduce
cyberbullying incidents. It will also make it harder for people to find any
inappropriate or unwanted pictures or content that users might have been tagged
in. Users now have more control over what is shared about them by their friends which is brilliant, but they need to enable the review option as it might not be a defualt option. Some users may not like to approval every comment or photo they are tagged in, so some usersmay choose not to use the function at all.
The new privacy settings will start to roll out to all users over
the next few days. When the settings are live on the account, users will see a prompt for a tour that walks them
through these new features from their homepage when they login. Current
Facebook users will retain their current default sharing settings. The first time any new Facebook member (i.e. any users who sign up after the new settings are in place) shares
a piece of content on their profile, their default suggestion will be public (for users who have registered as over 18)
unless they select another option (e.g. Friends), which will then become their default setting
Also New: Facebook Security Guide
Users can download a new free guide to help improve awareness about Facebook Security: “OwnYourSpace: A Guide to Facebook Security.The guide will help users to understand how to protect
your Facebook account, avoid scammers andconfigure advanced
security settings. Users will also be aware of secuirty features such as how to use one-time passwords, enable secure browsing and
track account activity. The guide will also help users to understand what motivates account thieves and
malware pushers and what they should if an account is hijacked or hacked.
e-Safety Perspective Summary
Overall the new privacy settings can be seen as a really positive step forward to helping Facebook users become more aware of how much information they are sharing online and have more control over content shared about them.
Parents/carers of Facebook users are
strongly recommended to read through the new privacy features and discuss the
possible impact of these changes with their child. Professionals need to understand the impact the new privacy changes may have to their profile and the possible implications for them both professionally and personally. Schools will need to be aware of these changes in respect to their policies and whole-school approach to cyberbullying as it will become even more important that users save evidence of cyberbullying.
Many of the new features
will offer users more control and clarity over what is shared on Facebook and with
whom (such as more control over tagging and the chnage in terminology to "public" rather
than "everyone"). Some of the new changes could be misunderstood by users and
could expose children and adults to new online risks (such as the addition of location
sharing to web browsers, the new default setting of public for new users and
the ability to tag people who you are not friends with) so it is important that users fully understand the implications (both positives and risks) of these new features.
As yet Facebook have not fully stated how all of these
changes will affect "minors" (users who are registered as being under
18) other than to say that minors will not have the option to share content publicly and they will be limited to sharing with either "friends of friends" of "friends". However, this will rely on the fact that the user has given a correct date of birth when the registered for their profile. With an estimated 43% of 7 - 12 year olds in the UK being active on Facebook (and therefore having lied about their age) it is possible than some of them may be given the "public" option sooner rather than later.
This blog post will be updated as the changes and implications of the new settings become more
Last update 24.8.11 @14:00