Gadgets and Games

Facebook Privacy: A How-To Guide

Facebook's new privacy settings, due out in the next few weeks, will allow one-click customizabiilty.

Facebook's new privacy settings, due out in the next few weeks, will allow one-click customizabiilty.  (Facebook)

Facebook is a few weeks away from announcing something historic: 500 million users. I want you to you think about that number for a minute; as a reference point, there are 300 million people living in the United States

Need another reference point? A few weeks ago Facebook had more visitors than Google! If you don’t have Facebook account you’re in the minority. If you do, well, you’re in for yet another round of changes to your account.

But this time, the changes are good. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced new privacy features for the site on Wednesday following a firestorm of criticism. In April Facebook angered users when it opened up our accounts and basically made it difficult to understand what we were sharing. Even Einstein would’ve needed help to understand the 170 different settings. 

The newly announced controls are simpler but don’t think for a minute that your information is private. Facebook believes you want to share information with your friends, and it’s “on” by default -- after all, you signed up didn’t you? This time around you have “turn on” the level of privacy you want.

The old set-up had a wall of text that was difficult to navigate, the new controls are laid out nicely in a simple to-read chart. To access your new and improved settings head on over to the account tab in the upper right hand corner of your page, then click “privacy.”

Here’s how it all breaks down: 

Everything you post is now in your control. That’s a big improvement and that means you can choose exactly who sees every post you make, down to that cousin you want to avoid. 

Now to the setting you’ve all been waiting for. A new simple on/off switch that turns off access to your information by third party sites and Facebook partners. Critics argued that Facebook made it nearly impossible to find this functionality before Wednesday’s announcement. Count me as one of those critics. 

Another important change is the user directory. Prior to the announcement I could search for Alyssa Milano and get information about her hometown, favorite activities, etc. Not that I was looking, but if I were, I’d now only see her name, gender, profile photo, and networks. So much for snooping.

Facebook is finally back on the right track with these changes. After all, no one wins with a convoluted approach to privacy. 

Clayton Morris is a Fox and Friends host and the tech godfather behind the Gadgets and Games show. Follow Clayton's adventures online on Twitter @ClaytonMorris and by reading his daily updates at his blog