Facebook revamps privacy settings (again)

Promises more control over who sees what

Facing heat from finer-grained privacy settings in Google+, Facebook has revamped the controls account holders use to designate who gets to see their pictures, posts, and other content.

Over the coming days, the controls will move from a dedicated settings page to the main profile page, right beside the posts, photos and tags they affect. The goal is to integrate the privacy settings with the content they control to make it easier for users to decide who gets to see what. As a result, birthdates, hometowns and other potentially sensitive data included in profiles will appear next to a drop-down menu that can be changed without having to visit a separate settings page.

“The profile is getting some new tools that give you clearer, more consistent controls over how photos and posts get added to it, and who can see everything that lives there,” Facebook Vice President of Product Chris Cox wrote Tuesday in a blog post announcing the changes.

Screen shot of new Facebook Privacy control

The changes come as Google has been promoting its Google+ service as a way for users to better control the online groups they frequent. The service had more than 25 million users as of earlier this month, according to an article from PC Magazine that cited comScore figures.

Another change includes the ability to approve or reject photos or posts that contain tags naming the user before they're visible on the user's profile. Facebook is also introducing the ability to change who can see posts after they are published. Additionally, the company is changing the designation for content that is freely available online.

“We are changing the name of this label from Everyone to PUblic so that the control is more descriptive of the behavior: anyone may see it, but not everyone will see it,” Cox wrote. “This is just to make the setting more clear, and it's just a language change.

Additional changes affect tag locations in posts and expanded options for to removing tags and content from the user's own profile or requesting other users remove content from their profiles.

“Taken together, we hope these new tools make it easier to share with exactly who you want, and that the resulting experience is a lot clearer and a lot more fun,” Cox wrote.

The revamp will roll out "in the coming days" and will be announced with a prompt for a tour that walks each user through the updated features. ®

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