Facebook announced today a shift in privacy settings for new users. Now, when someone signs up for a profile, their default posting status is set to friends only. Previously, the default was global — allowing any Web users to see the content.
Facebook will also conduct privacy check-ups for existing users who haven’t changed their settings in a while. These changes were previously announced at a media event last month, but are now being implemented.
Facebook blogged about the shift for new users:
While some people want to post to everyone, others have told us that they are more comfortable sharing with a smaller group, like just their friends. We recognize that it is much worse for someone to accidentally share with everyone when they actually meant to share just with friends, compared with the reverse.
So, going forward, when new people join Facebook, the default audience of their first post will be set to Friends. Previously, for most people, it was set to Public.
First time posters will also see a reminder to choose an audience for their first post, and if they don’t make a choice, it will be set to Friends. People can change who they are posting to at any time, and can also change the privacy of their past posts too.
The privacy check-ups will roll out over the next few weeks, with the privacy dinosaur explaining key privacy features that users might not know about.
Many Facebook users haven’t changed their privacy settings since signing up, so this is Facebook’s way of ensuring that users are only sharing content with the people they want to. One of the biggest user complaints has been when a random, unknown person engages with a post. By prompting users to change their settings to friends (or a curated list), users can play a bigger part in their Facebook experience.
Facebook will also simplify privacy controls on both mobile and desktop, making it clear who the post is being shared with.