Facebook changes default audience to ‘Friends’

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Facebook on Thursday announced that the default privacy setting for posts will be changed from “Public” to “Friends” for new users and existing users will be asked to check their privacy settings and review their audience selection.

The social networking giant said this change is a result of the feedback and request from users who wanted to share most of the updates with their friends only.

The company said in a statement, “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.”

Existing users will see a notification in the coming weeks to do a privacy check-up when they log in. The new tool would help users review their posts and information they have shared with others since they joined Facebook.

The tool, dubbed “expanded privacy checkup tool” will take users through a series of steps to the different areas of the site to control the privacy setting of their profile.

When Facebook changed the default setting to “Public” in 2009, it had a cold reception. Later, the company made personal information such as gender and location visible to the public which was also criticized widely.

However, the company had to resort to giving users more control over what information they share to compete with other services. A few weeks ago, Facebook rolled out a service that lets users log into apps and services anonymously without having to let them access to the publicly shared information in their profiles.

Brian Pascal, a privacy researcher at UC Hastings law school says, “This is less indicative of a spontaneous shift inside of Facebook and more of Facebook responding to a large shift in public opinion on privacy.”