Facebook's new privacy controls: Still broken

It seems Facebook's new privacy controls aren't really that new and don't really protect your privacy. Aside from that, they're great.

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So Facebook finally rolled out those new privacy controls it promised last week – to some users, at least. I was one of the lucky ones.

They sounded good at the time. In practice, though, not so much. In fact, I don’t think these changes were about improving privacy at all. More on that in a moment.

[Facebook revamps its privacy controls again (thanks, Google+) and Can Facebook privacy be simple?]

First, though, a correction. I was wrong when I wrote about Facebook’s new tagging controls last week. I had written:

One of my biggest complaints about Facebook is that it allows anyone to tag photos with your name – even if you’re nowhere in the picture. It was up to you to stay on top of tagging alerts and delete tags you didn’t want appearing. Now Facebook will let you preview tags and approve  or delete them before it they appear on anyone else’s wall. You’ll also be given more options about what you want to do – say, whether you want to remove the tag or ask your friend to remove the entire photo.

It turns out that the picture isn’t quite so rosy.

Let’s say your friend Bob tags you in a photo. Facebook will send you a message saying “Bob added a photo of you. To approve this for your profile, review your pending posts.” That’s the new bit.

That picture won’t appear on your Facebook page until you click “Add photo to your profile” (or “Approve all posts”). But it will appear on Bob’s profile, regardless of what you do. And all of Bob’s friends will be able to see it, assuming his privacy settings allow that.  That’s where I got it wrong.

Go ahead and reject that post. It will still appear on your friends profileGo ahead and reject that post. It will still appear on your friends profile

You can, of course, remove the tag, or you can ask your friend to take down the photo (and if he or she doesn't, block them entirely). But if you don’t remove the tag or your friend doesn't delete the image, the photo and the tag will stay there in perpetuity, as in the past. So Facebook tags are substantially no different than they were before; which is to say, they still suck.

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