Facebook has developed what they believe to be a sufficient solution to the dashboard privacy flaw that we’ve covered over the past few weeks: an application activity privacy setting. With the new layout, Facebook users can visit their applications privacy settings and change a new setting that lets you “Control who can see your activity in the Friends’ Recent Activity, Friends’ Applications and Friends’ Games sections” of the application and games dashboards (pictured below).
This Isn’t A Transparent Shift
When we listed out the options that Facebook had to resolve the issue, one of the hypothetical use cases was Facebook providing users with the ability to opt-out of these stories. As we wrote then, “The only problem with this is that many users may not be aware that their activity is being published by default.”
Our position is that when Facebook surfaces new information about users, which wasn’t previously visible, they have a duty to inform the users about the new shift. While users would be justified in arguing that this new setting should be opt-in, we believe Facebook should simply inform the users that this information is now visible rather than simply sneaking in a new privacy setting.
At this point, only those users reading sites that cover Facebook will know that this new privacy setting is available. Not even on the new homepage site tour (found here) does Facebook provide information about these new settings. The result is that users have information being made available to their friends without their knowledge.
Facebook has a responsibility to resolve this issue and we trust that they will at a minimum: educate users about the new settings. Do you think by adding this new privacy setting Facebook has resolve the issue, or do they need to take things one step further and educate users about the new settings?
As one commenter has mentioned, Facebook briefly mentioned the new privacy setting on their blog post the other day:
If you would rather not have your recent application activity visible in the dashboards to your friends, you can change this through your Privacy settings . We’re also working on a more granular set of controls for specific applications, so that you can turn off activity for certain applications while leaving it on for others. We’ll have more information to share on this soon.