Facebook has been in a longstanding tug-of-war with its users over privacy: as the platform expands the Social Graph, more users have dug in their heels in the name of keeping personal information private. Now the company may finally get the upper hand in the struggle by simply shifting the responsibility of privacy to the user.
At a Privacy Whiteboard meeting for journalists in Menlo Park on Thursday, Facebook Engineering’s Raylene Yung and Michael Nowak shared some of the privacy-focused user features that the company is currently testing. But the features aren’t really privacy safeguards — they just provide more “educational opportunities” for users to learn about privacy. For example, the company has been testing a Privacy Checkup feature, which periodically checks in to remind users when they’re posting publicly. The company is also working to make sharing options more explicit, by naming the different groups that users can share their information with and reminding users that when an item is shared, it can only be viewed by mutual friends unless otherwise changed.
These measures break Facebook’s privacy down into plain language in order to educate users about what Yung and Nowak repeatedly referred to as the “right mindset” for posting. The pop-ups, disclaimers and clarifiers that populate the platform are not only informative for users but also important pieces of protection for Facebook itself. The more the user knows, the less Facebook can be blamed for privacy outrage.