As surely as the sun rises, Facebook will keep revising its privacy settings in an effort to keep everyone from complaining. Starting today, there's a brand new method, and it's simpler than ever before. But there are some catches.
The first thing you'll notice is a simple, obvious means of hitting the main privacy concerns, now accessible through an icon at the top right of your profile.
• Who can see my stuff? • Who can contact me? • How do I stop someone from bothering me?
These are frequent complaints, and now there's a shortcut to (ideally) solving each by changing pertinent settings.
Allowing apps to use your information (or not)
The next change is app permissions — say, Instagram. If you want connect Instagram to your Facebook account, you'll now be presented with popup windows, which is a bit of a throwback and a little regressive, but will make the changes you're about to make more obvious — probably a net good.
Timeline: now less confusing
There's a difference between untagging a photo and hiding something from your Timeline. Sometimes people will do the latter, and expect the photo or post to be purged for good — instead, it's just harder to find, but not gone altogether. Now that fact is made clear every time you try to make something disappear.
No more hiding from search
Now some bad news, if you're an introvert or privacy paranoid: you can't hide from Facebook search any longer. The option to stay hidden if anyone looks for you is eliminated. This might perturb you, but on the other hand, this is a social network, and having proof that you're on Facebook like one billion other humans probably isn't going to derail your personal life — the change won't allow anyone to access your information who wouldn't have been able to before.
This is a big change: the log that displays literally everything you've ever done on Facebook — tagged photos, statuses, Spotify songs — is now easier to browse. There's a chronological Timeline search on the right side, which will make jumping around through your past easier. You'll also be able to quickly sort your history, allowing you to, say, find all of the photos you're tagged in but don't show up in your profile. Photos you might want to be aware of, but aren't. The new design also allows you to make changes en masse — for example, untagging yourself from a bunch of unflattering photos at once, or deleting multiple status updates.
Where is it?
The new privacy interface will start rolling out today, hitting all billion of us within the next few weeks, in waves. This is mostly good stuff, and should help reduce the amount of confusion and horror we encounter while trying to set who's allowed to see what.