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December 14, 2012

Facebook Debuts New Privacy Controls — Again

The tinkering continues.

Facebook launched a number of new privacy controls Dec. 12 in a bid to make the process easier for its members to understand.

The update comes a day after Facebook put into action its new privacy policies.

The social network has included privacy shortcuts, an easier-to-use activity log and a new request and removal tool for managing multiple photos members are tagged in.

The option to block searches of one’s profile within the social network is being phased out and will soon be removed from everyone’s profiles.

“Everyone used to have a setting called ‘Who can look up my timeline by name,’ which controlled if someone could be found when other people typed their name into the Facebook search bar. The setting was very limited in scope, and didn’t prevent people from finding others in many other ways across the site,” said Facebook director of product Sam Lessin in a blog post.

“Because of the limited nature of the setting, we removed it for people who weren’t using it, and have built new, contextual tools, along with education about how to use them. In the coming weeks, we’ll be retiring this setting for the small percentage of people who still have it.”

The social media site is describing the privacy controls update as a way to give users better ownership of their privacy because the process is less onerous.

Everything users need to change privacy settings can be obtained with shortcuts or by going to the tool bar, which now allows users to set “Who can see my stuff?” “Who can contact me?” and “How do I stop someone from bothering me?”

Users can also access Help Center content from these shortcuts.

App permissions have also been changed.

“The first time you log into a new app, it asks for permission to use your info to personalize your experience. Some apps also ask to post to Facebook,” Lessin wrote.

“Before today, these two requests were part of the same screen and happened at the same time. Soon you’ll start to see these requests happen separately, so you have more control over what you share. For example, a person can grant a music app the ability to read their public profile and friends list to personalize their experience in the app, but decline to allow it to post what they listen to to Facebook on their behalf.”

Facebook has also created a series of messages for privacy actions. For instance, when a user hides a post, a message will pop up to explain that although the post is hidden on the Timeline, it will still be visible in other places, like friends’ news feeds and in searches.

The changes, which will be rolled out this month, are all part of Facebook’s efforts to achieve “three main goals: bringing controls in context where you share, helping you understand what appears where as you use Facebook, and providing tools to help you act on content you don’t like,” Lessin said.