When it comes to user privacy, Facebook has woven a tangled web. It is often unclear to even the site’s most longstanding users with whom -- and with which apps -- they are sharing personal data.
Now, in the face of swelling criticism -- particularly on the heels of its $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp -- Silicon Valley’s “Big Blue” is perhaps looking to cover its tracks. Today, Facebook announced a site-wide “privacy checkup” for each of its 1.3 billion users.
The tool will roll out over the next few weeks, Facebook said, guiding users to “review things like who they’re posting to, which apps they use, and the privacy of key pieces of information on their profile.”
Facebook has also changed its default settings for new users who join the network. Rather than posting to "Public," the site will initially assume that users only want to share information with their "Friends."
In the announcement, Facebook pointed to other privacy initiatives it has introduced in recent months. These include added reminders, revamped audience selectors on its iPhone app, a redesigned app dashboard and an Anonymous Login feature, which enables anonymous app use.
But as it seeks to clamp down on privacy, Facebook is also adding new components that continue to blur the lines between intuition and intrusion. A new feature, announced yesterday, can automatically identify -- and share via status update -- songs, TV shows or movies that happen to be playing in the background whenever an audio icon is illuminated.