I used to recommend Facebook to people worried about online privacy. I don’t do that anymore.
Privacy just got too simplistic
I’m fully invested in social networks. I love knowing what my friends are doing – whether across timezones or across London, I feel like I’m still with my friends even if I’m not physically with them.
I’m also a lot more social in real life than I used to be, and although this maybe just my current stage of life, it wouldn’t surprise me if online connections did foster those in the real-world.
However, I have many friends and colleagues however who are cautious about putting parts of their lives online. No problem, I would say. Facebook is the best for that: its privacy settings are so granular. You can choose exactly what you do want to share, and what you don’t, and with whom.
At least, that’s what I used to say. Facebook has made a really significant privacy settings change, and unlike all the others up till now which have increased and made my privacy options more flexible, this one is a definite downgrade.
Facebook used to have four main type of ownership or tag:
- Your uploaded photos
- Your name tag in a post
- Your name tag in a photo
- Your name tag in a place
This meant that I could put default restrictions who saw which types of tag.
I don’t mind some people seeing my own pictures, but I may not want them seeing other people’s pictures of me. There are people who can tag me in posts, but I don’t let most people tag me in a place, or see where I am. With different types of tag, I could decide some blanket rules, then set and forget.
I’m notorious at the BBC’s College of Journalism for demonstrating my many levels of privacy. By mixing and matching the above combinations, I have seven (!) different Facebook privacy settings. (Claire Wardle and Sue Llewellyn always find this most amusing.)
As the joke goes, I’m not paranoid; they ARE out to get me!
But Facebook have wrecked my system. There are now only two main types of tag:
- Your uploaded photos
- Your name tag in a post, photo or place.
This means that I can’t separate different types of post anymore. If you can see my tag, you can see everywhere it appears. No more allowing people to see photos of me, but not where I am, for instance.
The result of this is that I’m not going to share quite as much, quite as freely anymore. All because Facebook over-simplified.
I can still make granular changes to individual posts, but only ones I’ve written, only as I make them, and only on the website. Now that’s complicated.
Your thoughts? Please comment.
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