Facebook's New “Transition” Tool and Privacy

Friday, December 11, 2009

Todd Zebert


12/9/09 Facebook launched “new privacy settings and tools to give you greater control over the information you share on Facebook”. For many users this may be their first exposure to Facebook privacy settings, and while it’s better than nothing, it can be improved greatly.

The three components of this launch are:

  1. Transition Tool
  2. Changes in how Security/Privacy works
  3. Publisher Security

But I think the key change is the definition of Everyone. As I suspected back on 10/7/09 Take Control of your Facebook security & privacy settings, Facebook’s Everyone now means Everyone on the internet:

(note that link only works AFTER you've completed the transition)

You may have noticed Google’s new real-time search (demo video) and may have heard about Facebook’s agreement with to feed data to Google. Currently, all this includes is Public Page updates, not Profile Posts. But Microsoft’s Bing DOES have access. Other search engines who knows. It’s only a matter of time until all of your Facebook Everyone-shared content is available by the search engines, possibly in real-time.

Transition Tool

The Transition tool will be required for all ALL users to review and update their privacy settings. On your next login you’ll go through the transition process.

Warning: Do NOT take Facebook’s recommendations for Everyone!

I don’t like Facebook’s recommended settings – they are too permissive. For instance, there’s direct Identity theft issues such if you’ve specified your Family Members in Facebook, someone may be able to find your mother’ maiden name. Less directly, they could use your information to answer any of those security questions that financial websites tend to give (“Where city were you born in?”, “What is the name of your first pet?”, etc.) Then there’s just personal info such as your “Looking For”, your Photos, Status Updates, etc.

Warning: If you’ve already done substantial changes to privacy be very careful to select “Old Settings” or you might have to go back and, for example, change all your photo album security manually.

Facebook has a video to guide you: How do I use the transition tool? [HD]

On your next login you’ll be prompted to run the Transition Tool, or “skip for now”.

You’ll get to review the changes they’re making. For each category on the left, there’s radio button in the middle for the FB recommended, and one on the right for your old settings. It will automatically probably (I've heard it's not in some cases, so verify!) select the option (by pre-selecting the radio button) of the more restrictive setting. The recommended settings are those Facebook has determined are commonly used.

  • To understand which category means, click on the small question mark to its right.
  • The Privacy setting is shown above the radio buttons for each grouping of categories.
  • To see what your old settings are, hover over the radio button.
  • To choose a different setting, you’ll have to change the settings later through your privacy settings.

Next save your settings.

Finally, review your settings, organized by level of privacy, and confirm them.

Overview (only available to users AFTER you’ve gone through the transition)

Changes in how Security/Privacy Works

There are quite a few changes. Look for a forthcoming blog on the details.

Overview of changes:

  • “A simpler Privacy Settings page.”
  • You’ll need to enter your password prior to making changing any Privacy Setting.
  • Location (Regional) Networks are gone, leaving only School and Work Networks.
  • Your location is shown as your Current City/Region Field from your Profile
  • “Tool to control the audience for each and every post you create.” See Controlling the Audience of Each Publisher Post below.
  • The “Basic Set” of publically visible info now includes: Name, Profile Photo, Gender, Location, Networks, Friend list, and Pages. This info is only visible to those with Facebook accounts, Applications, and Website that connect to Facebook.
  • “Social Ads” Settings have moved to your Account settings. The settings haven’t changed, just where to find them has.
  • Apps will have to ask to have more permissions than the “Basic Set” of info.
  • Differences for minors (those under 18): 1) Everyone means: Friends, Friends of Friends, and Networks. 2) No public search engine results. Note that Facebook does not permit profiles for uderage users (those under 13) and will delete these accounts if they are notified.


Controlling the Audience of Each Publisher Post

Previously known as the “Beta Publisher” which was available to those of you who had your profile open to Everyone, it now will be standard for all users.

Publisher is the “What’s on your mind?” box on your profile where you can share your Status, Photos, Videos, Events, Links, and more.

Now it will have the standard Facebook “padlock” security icon from which you can control the audience for your post. Options included are the familiar Everyone (anyone on or OFF of Facebook), Friend and Networks, Friends of Friends, and Custom. The default action for this is controlled by the “Posts by Me” Privacy Setting.

Further Reading



12/10/09 Updated Transition Tool discussion because I've had reports of it not pre-selecting the user's previous settings.


Original Path:  http://blog.toddzebert.com/2009/12/facebooks-new-transition-tool-and.html

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