In September 2014, Facebook began rolling out a privacy checkup tool for users. It's an attempt to by the network to encourage privacy among its millions of users.
It's a bit of a strange move coming from Facebook for a number of reasons. First of all, in regards to online privacy, Facebook is practically the antithesis of that. While other social media sites like Twitter allow members to create a username and never display their full names if they prefer, Facebook requires such personal information as a full name (of course, inputting your true name is optional), city and town of residence, and encourages users to include even their school and workplace. It's become a quick way to look up old friends, lost family members, and anyone you've just met.
Another reason why this is a somewhat odd move from Facebook is that the social media site has been known to track and sell user information to advertisers and marketers. Although Facebook has recently created a few opt-out options for lending out users' information, they have widely been regarded as being tricky and ineffective.
Whether Facebook management is intending to beck-pedal from their reputation or they simply want to help their users, the new online privacy checkup tool appears to be harmless. Millions enjoy their Facebook experience on a daily basis and this new tool can help improve that experience even more. You don't necessarily have to set the tool in place if you don't want to, but if you do, you can make your profile even more secure. Our vote: give it a go!
How the Tool Works
The new Facebook checkup tool allows you to double-check whom you share posts with, what permissions you have set on third-party games and apps, and who gets to see your personal profile information. The ability to toggle with the audience that sees your posts is the difference between any regular Facebook user seeing what you've posted and only friends catching that information.
If you don't use Facebook much or tend to only share links or what you ate for lunch, it may not matter much who sees your posts. However, if you talk about a vacation you're going on, a promotion at work, or a new baby, that's private information that you will want to keep to your circle only.
When you sign up for any of a multitude of games, apps, and other activities, you tend to give those games and apps permission to access your social media accounts like Facebook. Even if you stop logging into these apps, that doesn't mean that they disconnect from your Facebook profile. The new tool allows you to check through and see which apps and games currently have access to your Facebook profile and then disconnect from the ones that you choose to. The fewer third parties that can access your profile, the better for Facebook privacy.
The last area where the tool improves Facebook privacy is through the information on your personal profile. For the first time, you can address who sees what information on your profile, such as your hometown or where you work. You may have kept these areas blank for privacy reasons or you may have these proudly displayed, but now if you don't want any random person who searches for your profile to see this information, you can adjust it.
Setting Up the Tool
Facebook will send out prompts to its millions of users to go through the tool's steps. However, if you miss that notification or don't want to wait for it, you can head to your settings and then to the privacy area. From there, you can adjust the three areas to your liking. You can always reverse any decisions that you happen to make, so if you want to change your audience or add back a game or app that you're now using again, you can. Make sure to clean up as much as possible to optimize privacy.
Facebook's New Privacy Checkup Tool and uKnowKids
For all uKnowKids users, it is important to note that the tool detects uKnowKids on kids' phones. Be sure that when your child is prompted to use the tool that they know not to disable uKnowKids!
The Next Steps
Although it's somewhat ironic for a social media site that has had a history of minimizing privacy to begin advocating for privacy, it's also a breath of fresh air for Facebook to want to protect its users. Perhaps those at the site understand that users tend to give out a lot of personal information and that sharing this so freely can come back to bite them.
If more users decide to give this new privacy checkup tool a chance, they will protect their account and their own private information. Going through the three steps of the tool doesn't take long and won't really affect other Facebook friends, but it will still go a long ways towards making sure that the wrong set of eyes doesn't get to see your Facebook profile. That's surely worth a lot.