Facebook today announced a number of changes to improve the usability of its privacy controls, including a redesigned activity log, a two-step app permissions process, a new request and removal tool for photos, and more user education throughout the site.
The social network has long offered some of the most robust privacy controls on the web, but because of this comprehensiveness, it struggles with presenting all the options in a clear, easy-to-use way. The changes announced today are Facebook’s most prominent efforts at simplifying its system and giving users more control over what they share since it overhauled privacy settings and introduced the activity log last year.
The latest changes appear to be an improvement with more straightforward language, fewer options hidden beneath menus, a faster way to untag multiple photos and an app authorization process that first asks users if an app can access a user’s information and then asks if it can post to Timeline.
Of course, any time Facebook makes any visual or functional changes, users have to adjust. The frequency with which the social network reorganizes features and introduces new ones is a source of frustration for many people. Another upcoming change that some users will dislike is the phase out of the “Who can look up my timeline by name?” setting. Facebook will soon make it so that users can not hide themselves from Facebook search. The company points out that the setting was limited in that users can be found a number of other ways on the site. It has removed the setting for users who were not using it, and will gradually remove it for the “small percentage” of users who are.
We’ll go into the changes in more depth below. Facebook says these updates will roll out over the next few weeks.