Facebook Switches Default Privacy Setting to “Friends”



Last Thursday, Facebook made a historic decision to change the default sharing setting for new members, overturning a former 5-year decision.


Now, Facebook users will find their posts automatically changed from “public” to “friends”. New users who don’t set an audience for their first posts will, also by default, choose this set option. This change is due in response to concern with oversharing. “We recognize that it is much worse for someone to accidentally share with everyone when they actually meant to share just with friends, compared with the reverse,” a company representative wrote.


Facebook in general seems to be geared towards user trends, feedback, and increased privacy for registered users overall.


Soon there will be a “Privacy Checkup” feature where existing users can check, change, and accept new privacy features. These changes will minimize the risk of overshare, and users unwantedly, and maybe unknowingly exposing content.


“We think oversharing is worse than under sharing”, Privacy Product Manager Mike Nowak stated. However, is the question of oversharing and Facebook’s mission of making the world a “more open and connected” place contradictory?


The 2009 Facebook “recommended” settings were risky, as Novak himself pointed out. “Users who weren’t paying close attention might assume that since Facebook had launched for sharing..and was all about adding friends, that that’s who their posts would be seen by”. This led to controversial posts and images being found by potential employers, distant relatives (like grandma), and even stalkers.


These changes were part of the growing trend of sharing publicly on social media sites. Now, by making privacy options more visible, the controls are more user-friendly and easier to access. Reminders are also a way for Facebook to be proactive in guiding people towards updating their settings.


Giving Facebook users a choice in their privacy will keep users active in creating profiles and ultimately make Facebook more profitable to come. The freedom of choice Facebook now allows is letting people become connected only if they want to be.