It seemed for a while that Facebook was running away with the pie and the sauce in the social network scene. The arrival of Google+ has reignited the social war on the web. At least, we as consumers can look forward to a few rapid-fire changes in the way we conduct our online relationships. The new salvo I am going to check out here is the change in Facebook’s privacy control, sharing and tagging features.
Facebook’s recent blog post announced the changes. Let’s see how they affect you and me as the changes finally give some amount of control back to the user from the earlier maze-liker nature of Facebook. The changes allow us to fine-tune our privacy by using ‘inline controls’ on our profile.
Note: The changes will be rolled out gradually. At the time of writing this post, the changes weren’t reflected in my own Facebook profile. The screenshots are hence from the official announcement post (except for the one below).
A More User Friendly Way to Control Your Profile
Earlier: To restrict access to your profile information, you had to drill down into your privacy settings (Account – Privacy Settings) and then go deeper with a few more clicks to set who gets to view your details.
Now: This control is being given to an inline audience selector. This is basically an icon with a dropdown that lets you choose who sees your basic information. As in the screen below, it will appear next to your basic info.
Earlier: To see how your profile looked to others, you had to click on Edit Profile and the press View My Profile.
Now: The View My Profile button will be placed directly on your profile page thus eliminating the extra click.
A More User Friendly Way to Control Being Tagged
Earlier: Your photos (or posts) tagged by your friends would appear on your profile (and those shared with) instantly. You had to go to your Privacy Settings and remove the option entirely.
Now: The power to approve or reject the tagged photos (or posts) before anyone else views them on your profile has been passed on to you.
A More User Friendly Way to Share on Facebook
Earlier: Controls for who could see posts, shares, status updates etc. on Facebook resided on a settings page a few clicks away.
Now: The control for who can see each post will be right inline in an icon with a dropdown.
The dropdown feature will allow you to add your own custom groups of people. Does it remind you of the flexibility of Circles in Google+?
Three other enhancements caught the eye –
1. From now on, you can tag even if you weren’t on their friends list. It’s no longer necessary to befriend them first.
2. The Location feature is no longer for those with smartphones. You can add ‘where you are’ to anything on Facebook from any device.
3. Earlier, you couldn’t backtrack if you posted something by mistake. Once the changes roll out, you can change your mind (and your update).
The announced changes show what a little competition can do. I guess you wouldn’t be leaving Facebook in a hurry after all.
Do you think the changes took a long time in coming?