Facebook begins testing new, simplified privacy settings

If you are a regular Facebook user but you haven’t reviewed your privacy settings in a while, you may have already seen Facebook’s new “privacy dinosaur,” which tries to make users think about whom they are sharing things with and to regularly check their privacy settings:

But what you may not know is that Facebook has decided to make a few more tweaks to address some of the criticism it has been getting for years regarding confusing privacy settings.

“Sometimes, when people share things on Facebook, they feel that their information is shared with more people than they want. This is not a great experience when there’s an unpleasant surprise — when people share things thinking they’re going to be shared by one audience and they’re seen by someone they didn’t expect,” explained Michael Nowak, a product manager on the Facebook privacy team.

“We’re thinking about what are the kinds of product experiences that we can develop to help people with this. I think this is important to emphasize: When people have an unpleasant surprise like this, it’s bad for them and it’s bad for us. People feel less comfortable sharing over time.”

With that in mind, the company will be testing the changes in the incoming days and weeks. Novak says that they are now “thinking about privacy not just as a set of controls or settings, but as a set of experiences that help people feel comfortable.”

One of the new features addresses the complexity of the sharing options when users post on Facebook. The options of who will view your post remain the same, but they are more clearly explained to users who might not understand that sharing something with the “Public” means sharing it with everyone on Facebook and outside it.

When posting something via the iOS Facebook app, users will now see the sharing options directly above the status update prompt, which makes it easier to spot, review and change the permission.

Facebook will also test notifications for explaining to users what happens when they share something and a friend re-shares it.

Finally, users will be able to hide their old cover photos, which were until now public by default.

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