Facebook Updates Privacy Policy


After years of being hounded by users and security experts alike and earning a reputation as one of the bad boys of privacy it seems Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg seem to finally be changing his tune.  Are they finally listening to the concerns of their users?  Call me cynical but I doubt it.  Facebook has made some changes to their privacy policy which pundits are saying is a power move by Zuckerberg to solidify his user base and brighten up public perception.  Personally, we’re not buying it.  The changes are not nearly as significant as some would have you believe; it is the illusion of safety…  With all that said, here’s what you need to know about Facebook’s latest privacy changes.  Along with the couple of improvements there is one Orwellian addition that has us way more concerned than any of the things they’re supposedly fixing.  Read on for full details.

1.      Anonymous Login

Ok, this is actually pretty cool and something we’ve been dying for for quite some time.  If you’re anything like me you hate remembering a million passwords for every little mundane account you’re forced to create in a given week.  For people like this (like me) seeing the “Login with Facebook / Google” buttons are a godsent! That relief quickly turns to terror as I start imagining a reality where random developers are getting access to my most intimate details or worse yet; that I’ll be unwittingly spamming the newsfeed with whatever embarrassing guilty pleasure game I happen to be playing at that moment.  That’s why I’m genuinely excited about Facebook’s new anonymous login.  In short, this will still allow you to login to various accounts via Facebook but will not be giving out your Birthday, Friends list, political affiliation, blood type,  or any other information to third parties!  Ok Facebook, mad props for this one; it was long overdue!

2.      Friends Only By Default

For many of us we’ve had our Facebook accounts so long I bet you can’t even remember what it was like in those first few days as a new user.  A totally bare profile and news feed, this whole social media thing was still fresh and exciting!  That is, before it got unbearably screwed up with ads, narcissism, and image crafting.  This change only applies to new users and really is something so trivial I can’t really be cared to bother; furthermore, it should have been like this in the first place.  The fact it wasn’t makes you wonder just what Facebook’s intentions were.  This change now makes “Friends Only” the default sharing option for new users instead of the former default setting which would have you sharing all your posts to “Public”.  I know, seems like a no-brainer right?

3.      Profile Pics and Cover Photos can now be set to “Friends Only”

With another entry in the “No-Brainer” category, Facebook will now allow you to switch the settings for profile pics or cover photos to a more private setting.  Historically you Profile pictures and Cover photos were set to “Public” and there was no way to change it.  Wish I could say more on this but again, I’m underwhelmed.  The fact I didn’t have this control in the first place is kind of upsetting…

4.      More Visible Sharing Options on Mobile

This is a step in the right direction but again strikes me as a very minor change.  You may have noticed like I had, that it is quite difficult to tell who you’re sharing a post with when using the mobile app.  Only after looking through the share screen carefully was I able to discern a small globe I later realized meant I was sharing my posts with the public.  In contrast there was a small silhouette of two people to symbolize “Friends Only” and a lock to indicate a private post.  This option has now been moved to the top of the screen, front and center in a “To:” field very reminiscent of what you would see in an e-mail.  It’s a nice little optimization to improve clarity but hardly a ground breaking privacy change.

5.      Privacy Checkup Tool

Now, these are the kinds of things we feel can really make a difference.  If you haven’t seen the little blue Privacy Dinosaur (we’re looking for a funny nickname for him!  Feel free to post any witty or hilarious ideas in the comments section.  Try to keep it clean, sorta…) in your newsfeed yet you will soon enough.  Facebook has deployed this little privacy helper which is intended to remind users of the impact their sharing habits can have on their privacy and reminds them just how far a shared post can reach.  This tool keeps a particular eye out for those who post publicly and will show a pop up asking for confirmation whenever you’re about to post publicly.  This is the kind of initiative we’d expect from a company genuinely concerned about their users. “We want to do all we can to put power and control in people’s hands.  This new tool is designed to help everyone make sure they are sharing with just the audience they want,” said a Facebook representative.

6.      Facebook can now access your mobile microphone

Time for the bad news, amid all the news of these extra features and tweaks Facebook managed to slip through a feature with more ominous applications.  Facebook will now be able to activate your cellphone’s microphone and listen in on whatever it is you’re doing.  This shazam like feature is intended as a tool to share music, movies, and media without needing to type.  Personally, I’m not sure how comfortable I am with Facebook being able to listen in whenever they like.  I’m only now coming to terms with the enormous amount of information I willing supply to Google Now daily and am already too uneasy with that to allow microphone privileges as well.  This just has 1984 written all over it…

So what do you think about Facebook’s newest changes?  Are you worried about the new microphone feature?  Are you happy with the other tweaks they’ve made?  Do you think I’m being too critical of them?  As always, we’d love to hear from you!  Please comment below and let us know what you like, and don’t like about Facebook’s latest policy change.

Regardless of Facebook’s policies, you should always keep your information secure, and for that, VPNs rank at the top. Check out our guide here for some free VPNs you can start using today.

Renee Biana

VPN Pick brings you all the latest vpn news, reviews and discounts.

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