March was not a kind month for Facebook. It’s impossible to have missed the news stories relating to Facebook and the private information they allowed third parties, most notably Cambridge Analytica. While the term “breach” has been used a great deal, this information sharing isn’t a breach, but a sharing. When you link your social media account, whether personal or professional, to an app, you are granting access to your data. In fact, letting Facebook view your contacts allows them to monitor calls and texts you send if you’re an Android user.
This may sound terrifying, and it’s certainly a reason to be more careful with your data, but none of this is new. However, the uproar about just how open our data is on Facebook has inspired a massive overhaul of their privacy settings. Instead of placing settings across almost 20 different pages, Facebook is streamlining them and placing them all in one spot. The change is user-friendly, and important for everyone, regardless of their Facebook aptitude, to be familiar with.
Change Is Coming
Facebook provided examples of the new process, which looks to be a huge improvement:
It’s immediately clear that the new system is more user-friendly. The original set up (left) is fairly convoluted and full of multiple menus with no way to know exactly what information is where. They have also cleared out what they are referring to as “outdated setting” so that users can tell “what information can and can’t be shared with apps.”
Since the majority of issues with user data has been over third-party apps, Facebook is now giving you direct control over what information each app has access to.
Having more granularity in what you’re allowing apps to see is fantastic, but everyone will have far more questions than a simply interface upgrade can provide. Thankfully, Facebook is also making the details of privacy settings easy to find and understand. You can easily see the details of what can be shared, why you may or may not want to have it shared, and the reasons behind each option.
This new shortcuts menu lets you better see what options you have in regards to your information, and better explains each section.
Account Security- Here you can add things like two-factor authentication, which requires you to confirm any log-in from an unrecognized device. This is something that is essential for accounts managing business pages. You’re not only protecting yourself but also your customers.
Control Over Personal Information- Review what you’ve shared and delete it if you choose. That means posts, reactions, friend requests you’ve sent, and your search history.
Control Over Ads- Users can adjust what information is used to serve ads.
Manage Who Can See What- While we’ve been able to adjust who can see what we post and when, the new menus will allow for more detailed exclusions and inclusions, and let you better adjust what information is made public.
These tools have been a part of Facebook in one form or another for years, but the details about each setting, and the ways to adjust them, has been fairly obfuscated. This new setup will go a long way towards getting users to understand their data, and how to protect themselves.
Seek Out Your Data
The most impressive new addition is the Access Your Information tool. Access Your Information looks to be a massive advancement for Facebook, giving you the ability to securely access and manage your information, in a more robust way than just deleting old posts. You can find (and delete) posts, reactions, and comments. However, the most impressive part of this new tool is how you can use it to save your data.
Part of this new push has inspired Facebook to give you the option to download the data you’ve shared on Facebook. Not just your name, phone number, and interests, but your photos, contacts, posts from your timeline, and more. Being able to essentially back up your Facebook will give users a new level of security. Even if your Facebook is compromised, you can have a back up of your information. This is big not just for the average user, but for businesses as well! Having that back up of fans, messages, and posts will give businesses more control over their pages, and the data users have shared.
It’s easy to panic in the wake of huge news stories, and users will likely drop due to Facebook’s actions over the last half-decade, but these changes will go a long way in restoring customer confidence, and with billions of users, Facebook isn’t going anywhere. It is still the most powerful social tool for your business, and that won’t change anytime soon. The best thing you can do is get out there, and keep innovating!