Here’s How Facebook Fixed One Privacy Issue But Created Another



Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) rolling out some changes, and as with every change that comes with the social network, privacy concerns are at the forefront. This time around, Zuckerberg’s company may be taking one big step in the right direction. But, at the same time, it may also be taking another step in the wrong direction.

It was recently announced that Facebook was going to change its system a little bit so that new users’ published content on Facebook would automatically opt to go only to their friends, instead of going public to be seen by anyone, reports The New York Times. Previously, a new post would default to the public option if a user didn’t select a specific group of people to show it to, and that was a bit of an upset to users concerned about their privacy. Sure, it’s easy enough to switch a post from public to private, but it’s also easy enough to forget, and Facebook not taking that into consideration was a point of upset for some.

Thankfully, Facebook has remedied that by switching gears, as mentioned, but also by making the audience selection tool a bit more noticeable. In addition, the social network is adding a “Privacy Checkup” feature that allows users to be sure of what they are and aren’t broadcasting to the whole world so they can make the adjustments they need to protect their privacy.

Now concerned users just have to hope that Facebook doesn’t switch gears all over again with an overhaul of the privacy policy in the future.

Unfortunately, not every step is a step forward, and with the switch to defaulting for privacy, Facebook has added a feature that is likely to damage that relief concerned users were just starting to feel. A new tool will have smartphone microphones listening in on users to give them “a new way to share,” and though it might not be nearly as bad as it sounds, it might not be good for Facebook’s image.

The new tool would turn the microphone on when users write up a status. The microphone would then listen to its surroundings and try to identify any TV shows, movies, or music that was playing, and then it would note that information in the user’s status. Both having the tool and having it post information into a status are optional, of course. The problem with the tool is that at first glance it carries the creepy vibe of tech that keeps to0 much track of us, like the Xbox One’s always on, always listening camera that upset many when it was first announced. Not everyone will look beyond the first glance of this technology to see they don’t need to turn it on ever.

Facebook’s Nearby Friends feature was a similar case. If people wanted to use it, they could set it up to work reasonably privately and enjoy the functions it offered. If they didn’t want to use it, it had enough layers of opt-in requirements that they wouldn’t have needed to worry about everyone knowing where they were all the time. Still, that didn’t prevent people from growing concerned about a Facebook application that shared their location with anyone.

So, while Facebook may have taken a clear step in the right direction for privacy — albeit a step to make up for an early misstep — it has matched it with what may be considered a step in the wrong direction with its listening function.

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