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Facebook is to start offering a privacy check-up for its users on a regular basis. It seems like the social media site is acting on complaints from others, but it is still not quite a step in the right direction for many. In fact, cynics could view the move as a way to get more people to make their posts public without really thinking about it.
At the moment, the privacy settings are complicated, and the social media giant finally recognizes that. People currently have no idea who could actually end up seeing their posts, photos and more. Just one comment or like from one person could mean statuses are visible to that one person’s friends. It becomes confusing and dangerous in some situations.
To get around this, Facebook will now make sure all new accounts are set so only friends will be able to see the posts. This will help to offer the initial privacy, and then allows users to choose whether to allow others to see it all. If a users decides to make their posts public, those posts are visible across the whole of the internet and can also be found through search engines.
This is more than just statuses too. At the moment, all personal information could be visible to the world. Most people will not even realize how much is on show to those outside of their friend circles. This is the reason for so many privacy campaigns, and it seems like Facebook is finally listening by offering the regular check-ups.
It is certainly a 180-degree turn based on previous updates. In the past, Mark Zuckerberg and his team have forced some information to be shared with others, even if the user really wants to keep that information private. The only way for users to show their dislike is by closing their accounts, and that is not possible for all. There are so many people users would lose contact with if they shut down their Facebook account, and there is also the issue of lost businesses for those who are self-employed or run a company.
People complaining may not be the only reason why the company has made this change. Many more privacy-centric companies are seeing an increase in users. Snapchat, WhatsApp and other services are growing rapidly, and it is clear that the privacy for users is a major reason. The social media giant is losing followers, especially those in the younger end, and the lack of privacy is one of the most commonly stated reasons for leaving.
The changes could also be due to recent legal intervention. Google was just recently forced by the European Court of Justice to give people the chance to be forgotten online. While there is some danger behind this ruling, it is there mainly to protect the innocent people who do not want their whole lives shared online. There are chances that sites like the social networking giant would be next.
Users will now often get a pop-up that questions how private they want to be. It will not just be for status updates, but to make sure all the information is being sent to the right people. The privacy check-ups from Facebook will be regular, and rolled out over time.
Opinion by Alexandria Ingham