Facebook is testing a number of new privacy settings intended to better alert users of who they are sharing with on the platform.
The company shared plans on Tuesday for upcoming tests that will alter the way users select the audiences that see the posts they share. On Facebook’s web version, users can currently select from a drop-down menu which audience — “public” or “friends” — they want to share their post with.
That drop-down menu will now look different for some users, and groups like “Public” and “Friends” now include short definitions that better explain what each group entails. (“Public,” for example, includes “anyone on or off Facebook.”) The company is also testing a pop-up reminder that features a cartoon dinosaur encouraging users to pay attention to this audience setting.
Facebook will also test moving the intended audience label to the top of the post, instead of the lower-righthand corner where it sits now, as a way to ensure its visibility. This strategy has already been implemented on Facebook’s mobile apps.
These changes represent a larger push from Facebook to ease concerns from users who believe the company isn’t providing the necessary privacy offerings, or that Facebook’s privacy issues change too often, according to Mike Nowak, a product manager on Facebook’s privacy team. Nowak wants users to know that Facebook hears their concerns.
“There’s an unpleasant surprise when you share things thinking that they’re going to be seen by one audience and then somebody you didn’t expect interacts with that,” Nowak says.
“When people have an unpleasant surprise like this, it’s bad for them and it’s bad for us.”
Nowak says that the company’s goals around privacy haven’t changed, but its approach has, with Facebook incorporating more feedback from users in order to build out privacy settings. The privacy team, for example, has a screen in its office that surfaces comments and feedback from users, a constant reminder of the issues users are concerned over.
Facebook is also conducting 4,000 privacy-related surveys each day gathering feedback from users to better understand their wants and needs, Nowak says.
One issue users continually requested for change: the ability to hide old cover photos from non-friends. Cover photos, the broad photos at the top of a user’s profile, are considered “publicly available information” by the company, and are currently viewable by anyone. Facebook is testing a setting that allows users to hide old cover photos, so only the current photo is available for the public.
All of these changes are part of Facebook tests, which the company does whenever it rolls out a new product or setting, according to Nowak. There is no timetable for a full rollout, and it’s possible that some of the changes never make it there if feedback from users is not positive.