Facebook releases privacy guide for new users

November 2, 2012

Facebook has over a billion users. But on the off-chance that you’re not one of them, the social network has a new tool just for you.

From now on, new users will be given specific instructions on Facebook’s default settings, sharing permissions, policies on data access, rules about apps, games and third-party Web sites, advertisements, photo tags and the way the site finds friends and connections for new users.

The revamped process, which is rolling out to new users starting Friday, walks them through each of these privacy concerns and tries to clarify where they should be looking for information on what they’re sharing and with whom.

The network’s changes come in part due to the efforts of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s Office, the company said in a Friday blog post.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan said that the company is “committed to making sure people understand how to control what they share and with whom” and thanked the agency for its guidance “as we strive to highlight the many resources and tools we offer to help people control their information on Facebook.”

Existing Facebook users looking for a little clarity on how the network’s privacy settings work can head to the Facebook Help Center or their own settings for the information provided to new users.

Privacy is a very delicate issue for Facebook, which has to carefully balance user privacy and comfort with the need for ad revenue.

Last year, the company changed several of its privacy settings. For example, it decided to have users set privacy controls on a post-by-post basis, allow them to review picture tags before they appeared on user profiles and has made an effort to inform users about its policies for reporting and removing inappropriate content.

(Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Don Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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