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Facebook Privacy Checkup: Social Network to Offer Tips to 1.28B Users

Image: Facebook Privacy Checkup: Social Network to Offer Tips to 1.28B Users

By Nick Sanchez   |   Thursday, 22 May 2014 02:13 PM

Facebook is rolling out a new privacy checkup for all 1.28 billion users to make sure they understand just who can see their posts.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook's new privacy mascot, a blue dinosaur, will walk users through their privacy settings, including their "App Control Panel" which keeps track of what third-party websites users have ever registered and logged into using their Facebook credentials.

Additionally, Facebook has announced that all new accounts on the social network will default to sharing posts with friends only — instead of the whole world. Those tinkering with their settings to change the default to "Public" will also see a warning telling them they are about to share their thoughts with the wide-open Internet.

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The blue dinosaur was seen popping up for some users in recent weeks on individual posts, asking them who they would like to see the post — just friends or the whole public.

The move is a "sharp reversal" for Facebook, according to The New York Times, because "For most of its 10-year history, Facebook has pushed — and sometimes forced — its users to share more information more publicly, drawing fire from customers, regulators and privacy advocates across the globe."

Company CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who once predicted and celebrated privacy's death at the hands of the Internet, said more recently that, "People read a lot of the stuff that we do as if we are trying to somehow get people to share more things, but all the core innovations are around giving people the tools they need to be comfortable."

Those comforting tools have come at the same time that Facebook is fighting a case in federal appeals court regarding how it uses data scraped from teenagers' profiles and used to advertise products and services to their friends.

"They have gotten enough privacy black eyes at this point that I tend to believe that they realized they have to take care of consumers a lot better," said Pam Dixon, executive director of the nonprofit World Privacy Forum.

"It’s not fun when you share something, and someone you didn’t expect to be able to see it can see it," said one Facebook product manager who worked on the new privacy checkup.

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