Another great article from my favourite Social Media blog – Mashable.

I have to say that I think it’s a negative change on Facebook’s part that you can no longer set privacy settings for lists of people. Your friends lists are now visible to all friends – so beware of “friends” who add you just to get to your friends list.

Why Facebook’s Privacy Changes are Detrimental to Users

facebook privacy imageThough Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says that public is the new “social norm,” many members who use the social network for professional and business reasons have lost the ability to conduct certain actions privately as a result of changes made to the settings.

And despite this being a reflection and a catalyst of our social activities becoming more public through the likes of Twitter and other sites, not having the option to control certain aspects in some ways is detrimental to the way we use the site and has the potential to deter users from using the site freely.

Public Activity, Pages, Friend Lists Without Control

Changes to Facebook’s privacy settings mean that you can no longer hide your name, profile picture, networks, friends list, current city, and perhaps more importantly, the Pages that you are a “fan” of from being broadcast on your wall. The changes also include your activity (liking or commenting, becoming friends, writing on a wall, etc.). In some ways this is great for Facebook and can be beneficial to users — for example, being able to see all the activity of those you’re connected to can potentially make it easier to find new friends.

However, there are many reasons why you might not want others to see your activity. One of the biggest reasons is that it could be taken out of context by friends, co-workers, or business partners. You might think twice about your engagement on other profiles knowing it will appear on your wall.

Broadcasting Without Context

The fact that this information is being displayed is not just a problem because it removes the ability to control the privacy of your engagement with users and Pages, but also because it is being broadcast without context. Someone that stumbles onto your wall only sees the record of the action without knowing the reasoning behind it.

For example, as a journalist that uses the network for reporting, I have joined Facebook Pages or groups to gain contacts for reporting. With the previous settings, I was able to hide my joining the group from being broadcast to my network. However, now it gets posted onto my wall automatically and could easily be taken out of context. If I join a political or advocacy group strictly because I am trying to find sources, it might appear to my friends and colleagues that I joined the group because I support the cause.

We simply might not want to broadcast these certain activities, in both our personal and professional lives. In some ways, we may now be discouraged to friend certain people because we don’t want our boss to think we’re crossing the line with a source, or your wife to think that you’re flirting with an old friend by commenting on her wall.


Facebook is pushing itself to become more public than ever, and that has a lot of potential upsides. However, they should continue to keep users in mind by giving them options to control the information being broadcast.

It’s hard to tell what impact this will have on users, but it has the potential to decrease activity rather than increase it. Sure, people aren’t forced to use the platform, but Facebook has become part of our everyday lives. Longtime users accustomed to previous privacy options are being alienated when those choices are taken away.