Friday, May 28, 2010

Somewhat Improved Facebook Privacy Controls

Facebook has made some reasonable, but not perfect, fixes to the user interface for changing privacy settings. A few things are better exposed, such as the list of applications that have access to your data, and what data you are sharing with who. But it's still broken because you can't, in one place, tighten your security settings.

If you edit privacy settings and set the Sharing on Facebook option to Friends of Friends, this indicates that Family and Relationships can only be seen by Friends of Friends. But your list of friends remains public under Basic Directory Information. You need to go into Basic Directory Information and fix this manually. I don't see why the Sharing on Facebook settings can't be used to determine the Basic Directory Information sharing.

A similar problem exists for sharing data on other sites. Under Applications and Websites I am happy that I can "control what information is available to applications and websites when your friends use them". I am less happy that this again is not under the umbrella of Sharing on Facebook.

The new top level privacy settings page is an improvement, but you still need to dig too deeply to protect yourself. If you can't describe to a non techie in memorable words what they need to do do protect themselves, then it's too complex.

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