Facebook offers a peek at how it handles privacy, details a few changes

Facebook offers a peek at how it handles privacy, details a few changes
While it still struggles to offer its users privacy settings that tread the thin line between being granular and tailor-made, to being simple and easy to use, Facebook offered a glimpse of the backend work that goes into making the social networking behemoth secure. In addition to that, it also revealed it is working on displaying onscreen descriptions of how privacy works in order to help users understand with whom their online content will be shared, and how to prevent others from viewing their content.

A Techcrunch report details information Facebook shared with media recently. The social networking giant claims that it conducts 80 trillion privacy checks every day to ensure that user data is not wrongly exposed. This is in addition to conducting 4,000 daily surveys in 27 languages across the globe on privacy to understand what users want from their Facebook accounts. These surveys have prompted Facebook to start displaying onscreen settings about how privacy setting work.

The privacy settings descriptions will also include the manner in which users will share their status updates with audiences, and also about re-sharing. Facebook's privacy engineering manager, Reylene Yung, says that there are two teams at Facebook to manage the privacy. The first being the Privacy Product Engineering team, and the second the Privacy Infrastructure Engineering team. The product engineering team works on building settings that allow users to control viewing of their online content. The infrastructure engineering team on the other hand works on building an infrastructure that allows engineers to develop without worrying about privacy leaks accompanying new features being rolled out.

Facebook famously made changes to its policies based on comments posted by teenagers on the privacy surveys it conducted. The teenagers repeatedly asked for the ability to post publicly (an option previously unavailable), and Facebook finally listened, and gave the option to users in October 2013. Recent surveys also identified some misconceptions users have about Facebook's privacy settings, and to set those right, the company has some explanations handy.

The company says it will let people set their old Cover photos to only be visible to a specific audience. It explains that when a friend reshares a piece of a user's content, it will notify them that the reshare will only be visible to mutual friends. Facebook also said it would begin testing an in-line privacy selector for status updates that explains who "public" or "friends" posts will be shown to.

The fine line that Facebook has to tread whilst making privacy settings is to try to please both types of users - those that want granular controls, and the those that want intuitive and simplistic controls. The social networking giant has been taking flak for being unable to tread the fine line very well. Perhaps displaying the explanations of privacy settings onscreen is a good way to bring about more awareness, and can be considered a step in the right direction

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Further reading: Facebook, Facebook Privacy
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