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Facebook Changes Its Privacy Settings

Recently, Facebook has made some changes to the way it handles privacy and sharing settings. Up until now, the settings for who can see your status updates, personal information, pictures, etc. have all been kept on one obscure page. Taking cues from the market (Google+) and the legal system (lawsuits by European governments), Facebook has now given users much more say in how their information is shared.

The biggest change at the current time is that the privacy settings are now attached to the affected information. Each status update can be shared with either Friends or the Public (a change from the word "Everyone"). And you can change your mind about this after you've posted the update. (You could never change anything about your updates previously.)

Another feature that will soon be implemented is the idea of groups. Facebook currently has a Groups feature, but it is so inconvenient to use, even the most die-hard users don’t take advantage of it. This is going to change in the future and look much more like Google+'s Circles feature. It will give you more control to determine the relationship you have with others rather than lumping everyone under the term "Friends."

You will also have the ability to approve or reject tags on photos, including on photos others post. If a tag has your name on it, you will be able to review it first before it goes "Public." You will also be able to control if, how, and when you share your location as well. Currently, you can only do this with the Facebook Places feature in smartphone apps, and only while you’re at that location. Soon, you’ll be able to identify your location after you’ve made the post. So once you’ve returned home, for instance, you can go back through your status updates and photos and mark the locations you were when you made them. You will also be able to identify locations you will be at in the future in case you want to crowdsource some traveling tips.

Bottom line, Facebook has made it much easier for you to know what’s going on with your information and given you much more control over who sees it. And unlike previous changes to such policies, Facebook gave advance notice of these changes and you’ll see some notices when they become active for you. Take a minute or two and check out the changes and know what’s going on with your information. That’s common sense whether online or off.

(See Facebook's full announcement.)

Julie Kuehl, (701) 231-6403

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