Facebook Rolls Out 'Privacy Checkup'

In the coming days, Facebook users can expect to see a message prompting them to review their privacy settings to ensure they are set up as intended. The step is part of the Privacy Checkup initiative the social network announced in May to help people make sure they’re sharing updates with the right audience.

Following a pilot this spring, Facebook on Thursday announced the wide rollout of the Privacy Checkup, allowing users to review and adjust the privacy level of posts, the apps they use and key information provided in their profile.

A Facebook blog post today highlighted a series of screens that the Checkup process takes users through, starting with a review of audience settings for posts, like “friends,” or “public.” Then it moves on to settings for apps they use on Facebook, and those on specific parts of their profile, like where they work or went to school.

In May, Facebook changed the default setting for first-time users, limiting posts to friends instead of being shared with everyone. Up until then, status updates were automatically posted publicly unless a user changed their privacy settings.

The moves are part of recent efforts by Facebook to improve on its reputation for playing fast and loose with users’ privacy rights. The company in 2011 signed a consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission requiring it to respect its members’ privacy wishes and undergo regular privacy audits for the next 20 years.

Lately, the expansion of its behavioral ad-targeting program, based on a user’s Web activity outside Facebook, has raised new privacy concerns. In July, a coalition of privacy advocates asked regulators to block Facebook from profiling users based on their Web-wide habits. 

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