How Facebook's New Profiles Impact Your Privacy

An update to Facebook Profiles unveiled over the weekend puts an emphasis on the personal: displaying photos and revealing users' relationship, hometown and work status right at the top. As users adapt to the new look this Monday, we take a look at how the new design impacts users' privacy concerns.

An update to Facebook Profiles unveiled over the weekend puts an emphasis on the personal: displaying photos and revealing users’ relationship, hometown and work status right at the top. As users adapt to the new look this Monday, we take a look at how the new design impacts users’ privacy concerns.

Where the current profile lists personal information to the left side of the user’s news feed, the new design puts that information front-and-center, above the news feed, including relationship status, hometown, work status and birthday.

The change does not affect users’ pre-existing privacy settings. Users should think carefully, nonetheless, about how much information they share using the new service. The same personal information convenient for connecting with friends on Facebook, is even more tempting, and useful, to identity thieves and cyber scammers searching the site.

Along with the layout, also new to Profiles are more photos and tags, all more opportunities to expose your identity. In addition to your one profile photo, the default version of the new page displays five other recent photos that you’ve been tagged in. The site does allow users to hide the photos or swap them out for different ones, but users should be aware of the default version.

Another new feature details your relationships with your Facebook friends, showing comments you’ve exchanged and places you’ve visited together.

According to a Facebook blog announcing the switch, the new feature encourages users to, “Give a more complete picture of how you spend your time, including your projects at work, the classes you take and other activities you enjoy (like hiking or reading). You can even include the friends who share your experiences.”

The new profile page will be rolled out to all of the site’s 500 million users over the next month.

Users anxious to update their profile now can do so by following a prompt from their profile pages. The less restless can wait and have Facebook do the work for them. Once the transition is complete, all users will find that Facebook has rearranged their information to fit the new layout.

And all users can continue to maintain and update their privacy settings at http://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy.