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Facebook knows it’s bad for Facebook when its users freak out at privacy changes. It wants to stop making that happen.
The company is in the midst of rolling out a few slight tweaks to its privacy settings, an attempt to minimize the accidental sharing incidents that often raise the hackles of Facebook’s 1.2 billion users.
“Sometimes when people share things on Facebook, they feel like it’s been shared with more people than they wanted,” Mike Nowak,* Facebook’s privacy product manager, said in a roundtable with reporters on Tuesday. “When people have an unpleasant surprise like this, it’s bad for them and it’s bad for us.”
The changes aren’t massive. Facebook plans to tweak a drop-down menu that lets you select which groups of people you share posts with — though, curiously, by hiding some of the other group options in an extra sub-menu. (Facebook says the two most visible options, “Public” and “Friends,” are the most often used.)
The company is also testing short privacy surveys to see what features people aren’t comfortable with, and has begun to issue short privacy check notifications to remind people that they’re sharing posts that anyone on Facebook can see.
Facebook has a rocky history with privacy settings. A number of the company’s past sweeping privacy changes have caused public outcry, resulting in very public apologies from Mark Zuckerberg (not to mention the occasional 20-year Federal Trade Commission privacy audit).
Which is, I imagine, why Facebook is making small tweaks rolled out gradually, rather than any sudden major changes, to how sharing works. Smart move, I’d say.
Expect to see some of these changes appear over the next few weeks.
* Nowak is married to Re/code editor Liz Gannes, my colleague, who had no input on this story.
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