Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced three long-overdue measures this week that will soon allow users to control how much privacy they give up when they use apps.
Here's a summary of these new Facebook privacy measures, which are set to be rolled out over the next few weeks and months:
A 'New Facebook Login'
The Facebook Login is the way you login to various "apps" using your Facebook credentials. This saves you the hassle of having to remember numerous logins and passwords.
It used to be that when you signed up with an app using Facebook, the app would just tell you what information Facebook was about to hand over to it. You could agree to everything or choose to not sign up with the app. That is actually still the case, but according to Wednesday's announcement, the "new Facebook login" will eventually let you choose what information Facebook shares with apps.
This is supposed to be rolling out over the next few months. In the meantime, you still need to tell the Scrabble app your birthday if you want to play it.
Facebook also promises to start reviewing new apps that use the Facebook Login to make sure they are only asking for information they really need and to make sure they aren't posting to Facebook on your behalf without explicit permission.
"Anonymous Logins" would let you try out apps without sharing your personal information with developers (i.e., app makers). Facebook is currently testing this out with a few developers and plans "to open it up to more developers in the coming months."
A Redesigned App Control Panel
Facebook also announced a redesigned dashboard where users will see a list of the apps they use, allowing them to manage permissions or remove apps. It'll be rolled out over the next few weeks. The current dashboard is actually pretty good; it lets you see all the apps you've signed up with and remove any you don't want. To go to it, open up Facebook in a browser window, click on Settings, then click on Apps.
Facebook has been widely criticized and often sued over its approach to user privacy, which allegedly includes scanning user messages to find data to sell to advertisers and tracking user Internet activity after they sign off of Facebook. (It should be noted that Facebook denies any wrongdoing.)
How do you feel about the Facebook changes? Share your thoughts with us on... well... Facebook.
- Introducing Anonymous Login and an Updated Facebook Login (Facebook)
- 10 at 10: Privacy Settings to Celebrate Facebook's Birthday (FindLaw's Technologist)
- Facebook Turns 10: A Legal Status Update (FindLaw's Decided)
- Social Media Safety Tips for Teenagers (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)