Thursday, December 10, 2009

Taming the Facebook Beast, pt 3

For some reason I thought the changes to Facebooks privacy settings took place last week. Then tonight I logged on and was hit with the notice the privacy settings have changed. The good news is, nothing much is changed as far as what you may have already set, and anything you've done already is still there. And if you want to change anything, it's now all available in one place, a place we've seen before:

[caption id="attachment_230" align="alignnone" width="214" caption="First, go to Settings-Privacy"]First, go to Settings-Privacy[/caption]

Once you click on "Privacy" things look a little different:

[caption id="attachment_274" align="alignnone" width="586" caption="Facebooks new consolidated privacy page"]Facebooks new consolidated privacy page[/caption]

Today we're going to go over the new interface, and finish our Facebook tutorial in the process. That's made possible because now everything is accessed in one spot, and all of the settings are controlled in almost exactly the same way. There's no need to relearn how to do anything we've already gone over, only where it's at. The first group of settings is the Profile Page, which we'll take in two parts because my screen isn't large enough to get the whole page at once :)

[caption id="attachment_281" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="Top portion of the new Profile privacy page"]Top portion of the new Profile privacy page[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_291" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="Bottom portion of the new profile privacy page"]Bottom portion of the new profile privacy page[/caption]

You can see that the controls are more specific, giving you more options for controlling what is viewable by whom. The privacy pull down menus are the same as before. But the "Custom" option is greatly simplified.

[caption id="attachment_284" align="alignnone" width="502" caption="It's easy to setup multiple exclusions"]It's easy to setup multiple exclusions[/caption]

There are two privacy settings that are different from the others on the Profile privacy page. The first is the "Photo Albums" setting. Clicking on "Edit Settings" brings up the album privacy page. Both the album privacy page and the custom privacy settings are the same as before:

[caption id="attachment_300" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="The album privacy settings haven't changed"]The album privacy settings haven't changed[/caption]

The second is the "Allow Friends to post on my wall" setting. It is either on or off. To me this is the setting that most needs to be configurable. Sure, if someone insists on posting annoying things on my wall I can unfriend them, but I want to leave that as a last resort. I want to be the same configurable interface I use to say who can see my birthday.

The next option is the "Contact Information" and it handles things like phone numbers and IM info:

[caption id="attachment_334" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="Control who can see your email address, IM, etc."]Control who can see your email address, IM, etc.[/caption]

The privacy pull down menus work exactly the same as on the Profile privacy page.

After the contact information comes the "Application and Website" privacy section:

[caption id="attachment_309" align="alignnone" width="602" caption="The privacy settings for Applications and Web pages"]The privacy settings for Applications and Web pages[/caption]

The first selection, "What you share" is just an overview of how sharing works in Facebook. The second section, "What your friends can share about you" is a series of checkboxes:

[caption id="attachment_311" align="alignnone" width="627" caption="Uncheck anything you don't want your friends to share about you."]Uncheck anything you don't want your friends to share about you.[/caption]

You can be as wide open or as close mouthed as you want to be, which is a good thing. The next section is blocked applications - the Facebook help says to go to the applications about page, but I haven't found a link to an about on any application I use, so I can't tell you much about blocking apps. It's something I'll be looking into in the next week or so.

Search is the next setting:

[caption id="attachment_317" align="alignnone" width="601" caption="Simple and clear."]Simple and clear.[/caption]

Exactly as it used to be, to keep from being submitted to Google and other search engines, make sure that "Public Search Results" is NOT checked.

Notice the request for a password. I have been gone from my computer for hours with Facebook up and nothing locked. Now after a short time of inactivity you have to give your password to get back into Facebook. That is another good change in the way Facebook does things.

And our last stop on our whirlwind tour of the new Facebook privacy policies is the people blocker:

[caption id="attachment_322" align="alignnone" width="580" caption="Block people by name or email address"]Block people by name or email address[/caption]

Very simple, just enter the name or email of the person you want to block. And that concludes our basic overview of securing yourself on Facebook.

This new strategy of putting more options in the main windows and simplifying the settings custom windows has made the privacy interface cleaner, easier to navigate, and more intuitive. It's a major improvement, and hopefully one that will encourage people to make use of the privacy settings.