If Facebook and privacy had a relationship status, it might be "It's complicated." More or less every day, the company gets bombarded with user feedback demanding more privacy settings and greater choice in determining what other people can or can't see.
So Facebook is rolling out some new features designed to help you understand who you're sharing content with — and how their sharing behavior affects you. Some have already begun hitting newsfeeds; others will be released in coming weeks, according to Michael Novak, a Facebook product manager.
"Some people have felt Facebook privacy has changed too much in the past, or we haven't communicated as well as we could have," said Novak. "Now we're thinking about privacy not just as a set of controls or settings, but as a set of experiences that help people feel comfortable."
Here's a selection of what's coming or already here.
More specific audience selectors. When you go to post something on Facebook, you get a little drop-down menu that looks like this:
The line between "Public" and "Friends" seems pretty self-explanatory. But Facebook is going to start elaborating on what those terms really mean. A new dropdown menu contains little descriptions, such as "Anyone on or off Facebook" and "Your friends on Facebook." (The new feature is to the right in the — blurry — photo below.)
More visible sharing settings. In addition to spelling out who you're sharing to, Facebook is already making that choice more clear. Take the mobile app. The audience selector used to hang out just near the keyboard. You probably didn't know what it meant, because it was just an icon. Now, however, Facebook has moved the selector to the top of its mobile interface. It looks a little bit like the address line in an e-mail editor.
The ability to make your old cover photos private. Previously, cover photos were public by default, lumped into the same category of information as your name and profile photo. Facebook says it uses this information to help distinguish one user from another. In a few weeks, however, users will be able to hide their cover photos.
"Resharing education." What happens when you share something, and a friend re-shares it on their own timeline? Who sees that? Only your mutual friends, Facebook says — and in the coming weeks, it'll make that more clear to people with a special notification on Facebook posts that explains how it works.
A new privacy setting pop-up. Facebook is testing a pop-up notification that asks users who haven't reviewed their settings in a while whether they'd like their posts to be shared publicly by default, to their friends by default or another more specific setting. The graphic comes along with an icon of a little dinosaur. Asked whether Facebook was implying that privacy was an artifact of the past, Novak told reporters Tuesday that the team had actually tested the image against a more neutral icon.
"People liked it more when we had this more friendly dinosaur figure," he said.