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Facebook changes privacy settings

In December 2010, I published my Master’s Thesis as requirement for the Law and Technology program at Tilburg University (The Netherlands) which is called: “SNS and personal data: an analysis of Facebook’s compliance with EU data protection legislation”. This thesis can be read here.

This Thesis assessed Facebook’s features, possible privacy issues, third-party accessibility and EU Data Protection legislation.

I focused on Facebook in my thesis, because as as of 2010 it was and still is (2011) the leading social network services (SNS) provider. My thesis includes an in depth description of how it works and its special functionality such as its several applications (i.e. Places, LBS, Photo Tagging), which were controversial in terms of privacy and data protection. The thesis recommended that special attention should be given to those features which deal with personal data and private information to ensure that no intrusion into private information or vulnerabilities could be possible when SNS are used as a tool for social interaction.

This Thesis and several articles posted on E-Crime Expert’s website (here), along with continuous involvement of other academics, scholars, advocacy groups, industry, governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, non-profit organizations, and the European Commission, which all assessed, discussed and made recommendations, helped Facebook to analyze, re-think and change its privacy settings, which are rolling out as today, 26 August 2011.

The following is a summary of Facebook’s new privacy settings:

How to review tags before they go on the user’s profile:

Now the user can choose to approve or reject photos and other posts people tag him/her in before they appear on his/her profile. To turn this on, one can visit the “Manage How Tags Work” section of the account privacy settings and turn on “Profile Review”.

How to remove tags from the user’s profile:

▪     The user can remove the tag. The post will still be on Facebook, but it will no longer link to the user’s profile.

▪     The user can send the owner of the posted a message, and ask them to remove the post from Facebook.

▪     The user can report a post to Facebook. If the post is abusive, it will be removed.

▪     The user can block the owner of the post. All tags from this person will be removed, and the user will no longer be able to see or interact with that person on Facebook.

▪     Also, from now on the user can choose a setting that will require him/her to approve or reject any photo or post in which he/she is tagged before it appears on his/her profile.

▪     For more information please visit Facebook “About tagging” page, here.

How to turn location on or off:

The location button in the sharing tool lets the user add his/her general location to all of his/her posts after he/she turns it on and until he/she turn it off. The user can also add a specific place, like a restaurant or park, to his/her posts.If the user does not want to add his/her general location to all of his/her posts, then he/she can turn off this feature at any time.

For more information please visit Facebook “Share where you are” page, here.

How to change the settings regarding sharing a particular post:

Now the users will be able to select who sees a particular post on Facebook: Public, Friends, or Custom.

Along the user’s wall, will be a dropdown menu where the user could select to whom that post is addressed: family, friends, co-workers, etc. This option is also available after the user posted his/her post and wants to change his/her audience for a particular post. The changes operate as described above.

To have an in-depth look at all these changes, please visit “The Facebook Blog”, here.

*Please note: These privacy settings may not yet be available as they are rolling out as today and not all users get them in the same time (geographical position, time, etc). So keep an eye out when they’re implemented so you can change your settings.

  1. August 27, 2011 at 10:10

    This information is very useful. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be keeping a look out for when these changes come into affect.

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