Facebook, explained: 4 privacy changes you need to know about
Published Sunday, May 25, 2014 2:02PM EDT
Facebook has finally caved to public pressure and agreed to improve its privacy settings, but the tighter security for its traditional features also comes with a new potential concern.
From more safety prompts and user-friendly interfaces, to some big changes for its mobile app, here’s everything you need to know about the changing face of Facebook.
What says “privacy” better than a blue dinosaur?
In an effort to address privacy concerns, Facebook introduced a “privacy dinosaur” popup in April to remind users when they’re making a public post. That popup has since been expanded to include a privacy checkup tool, so long-time users can review their sharing settings.
“We want to do all we can to put power and control in people’s hands,” Facebook said in a recent statement on its website. “This new tool is designed to help people make sure they are sharing with just the audience they want. Everything about how privacy works on Facebook remains the same.”
Are you tired of apps demanding your Facebook information at the login screen? Do you hate it when Candy Crush Saga posts to your wall? On April 30, Facebook rolled out its anonymous login functionality, so users can now connect their Facebook-enabled apps without surrendering their personal information. Now you can play Candy Crush Saga without the game posting updates to your Facebook wall.
The anonymous login feature essentially lets you customize what your apps can do and see, as well as how often it will send notifications (if at all).
The Facebook interface is pretty busy-looking, and for first-time users, all those settings can be intimidating. It used to be that, if newcomers didn’t change their privacy settings immediately, their posts would be displayed to the public.
“We recognize that it is much worse for someone to accidentally share with everyone when they actually meant to share just with friends, compared with the reverse,” Facebook said.
To fix that and give newcomers more security, Facebook has changed its default privacy settings. Now, new users will be prompted to pick their audience when they make their first post, and the default will be set to share only with friends.
Facebook has faced a lot of heat over privacy concerns lately, so it’s no surprise that many of its recent updates have been targeted to addressed that very issue.
Buried under all those privacy upgrade announcements is a new potential concern, as Facebook can now listen to what’s happening around you. The mobile app will soon be able to activate your smartphone microphone so it can hear your environment and determine what you’re doing – if you choose to have the feature turned on.
Whether you’re listening to Justin Bieber in the car or watching True Detective on the couch at home, the Shazam-like feature will detect what you’re doing, in hopes that you’ll share those details with your Facebook friends. Facebook is billing the new feature as a way to “share and discover music, TV and movies” without having to type it all out.
And while Facebook says it doesn’t store the actual sound, a spokesperson for the company recently told the International Business Times that the audio data will be collected and aggregated.
That means that while Facebook can’t hear you, it will have records of what you like doing.
A representative from Facebook says the feature will be limited to the United States for now and that there are currently no plans to debut it in Canada.
But keep an eye on the Facebook microphone's progress in the U.S., because its success or failure will surely impact whether we see it in Canada in the near future.