Google and Facebook launch new security and privacy tools

New tools aim to help users better understand and control their online security

google security dashboard
Credit: Google

Almost at the same time, both Google and Facebook have introduced new features and guides to help users make better sense of their security and privacy options. Obviously, it's about time.

Google's new Devices and Activity dashboard will show you the devices that are currently signed in or have been active on your account in the last 28 days. If you find suspicious activity reported, there's a link to securing your account and changing your password. If you have a Google for Work account, Google has also roled out a security wizard that helps you audit your security settings. It's like a spring cleanup tool for your Google at Work account.

Facebook, not usually considered a proactive company when it comes to users' privacy, announced it's rolling out Privacy Basics, "tips and a how-to guide for taking charge of your experience on Facebook." The company also says it's overhauling its terms and policies to make them easier to understand. The updates will take effect on New Year's 2015.

Security and privacy settings are often buried in a maze of navigation menus, and even when you do find them, they're not always easy to understand what, exactly, you're changing. These are good moves on both tech giants' parts--as users we want to have more control over our online security and privacy, but it's up to the online companies to make it easy for us to exercise that control (and to enable those settings in the first place). 

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