Facebook’s 'Privacy Basics' Is A Privacy Guide You May Actually Want To Read

By now most people are probably used to Facebook changing its privacy policy several times a year. Usually, when that happens there's an uproar from Facebook users, especially if their privacy settings have been reset to a more public setting.

Facebook has done that in the past in order to force more people back into the public sharing sphere if those users had switched to more private sharing before. Of course, that has always backfired as well, and it has only made people trust Facebook even less.

Today, Facebook tried to actually improve the situation for its users by making its privacy much clearer and four times smaller than before, and also by adding an interactive "Privacy Basics" guide that explains to users one information byte at a time what various features do on its site.

There may be over one billion users on the site, but most are still unlikely to know exactly how each of Facebook's features can affect their privacy. The Privacy Basics takes users step by step through three categories called "What others see about you,""How others interact with you" and "What you see."

Going through the guide may take a while because there are many steps in each category, but it should be worth it for most people as they can learn much better than they ever could before about what they are sharing with other Facebook users and how they can control each interaction.

For those who may just want to get straight to the point and see the simplified "block of text" privacy policy, they can do that as well. That information is also presented much better than before. It's categorized, color-coded and well spaced-out.

Facebook has had many privacy blunders in the past. The company has been fined and monitored by the FTC because of them, and it had a class action lawsuit started against it in Europe. A recent Pew Research study showed that 91 percent of the respondents believe they've "lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies."

At this point an overhaul of Facebook's privacy is not just a nice thing to do for its users, but it may even be critical for the company's business in the future. Although the new privacy policy is not exactly an overhaul, but just a simplified version of its previous privacy policy, the fact that Facebook is helping its over one billion users better understand what they're sharing on their accounts and to whom, makes it a major improvement.

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Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.
  • amclaren4
    I went to privacy basics and found there examples not match the description I see in my web browser. Like choosing who can see my posts. It says friends on my choice and when I check it after posting it says friends+. I believe this means friends of friends. This was not my choice but the only friend choice I had. It make this appear as though I am sharing with my friends friends. I just wanted my friends to be able to see it if they wanted and nothing else.
    Privacy basics has other areas like lists you can share with. the direction on where to make these actions are in different places than on my Facebook.
    The choices and there explanations do not appear to match with what happens. This leads me to not understand the term "sharing with friends. This appears to be friends+, and I do not see a definition nor a choice to differentiate this difference.