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September 21, 2012

New Facebook plugin offers another way to control privacy

Users can now control the privacy setting of what they share directly from the Facebook web app.

By Tineka Smith

The new plugin aims to make it easy to implement user controls when working with Open Graph built-in actions.

So if a Facebook member uses a site like Airbnb, they can set the default Facebook audience for activity shared from the app.

Facebook users can also manage the settings for stories previously posted on Facebook as well as choosing or removing a specific audience altogether.

Facebook plugin

"The Shared Activity plugin provides an easy way for users to curate and control the privacy of their activities on your site that are shared back to Facebook," said the company in a blog post. "This plugin lets users configure the privacy settings of their activities on an individual level while removing unwanted activities that are shared back to Facebook."

Individuals can modify privacy settings through the plugin without needing to go directly to Facebook to control what’s being shown. Privacy settings that can be controlled include the App settings, inline on timeline and Activity log.

The plugin, however, does not control privacy settings within the app.

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"If a user is logged out of Facebook or has not authorized your site, the plugin will not be displayed," said Facebook. "In this case, you should account for this scenario within the user interface of your site."

Facebook recently reached the terms of a long time privacy settlement with the FTC in August this year.

Facebook’s privacy practices were brought to the attention of the Federal Trade Commision when privacy advocate organisations complained after Facebook introduced new privacy settings in 2009.

Facebook had been charged that it deceived its users by repeatedly allowing their information to be shared and made public after telling users it would keep their information private.

As part of the agreement Facebook must now give its users "clear and prominent notice" and receive their consent before sharing user information.

"The settlement requires Facebook to take several steps to make sure it lives up to its promises in the future, including by giving consumers clear and prominent notice and obtaining their express consent before sharing their information beyond their privacy settings, by maintaining a comprehensive privacy program to protect consumers’ information, and by obtaining biennial privacy audits from an independent third party," said the FTC in a statement.

The FTC has noted, however, that Facebook has made no admission of guilt and rejects the allegations against it.

Facebook shared personal information with advertisers despite its promise not to and kept the content of users who deleted or deactivated their accounts accessible after telling users the content would be inaccessible.

"Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its hundreds of millions of users," said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC in a 2011 statement. "Facebook’s innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy. The FTC action will ensure it will not."

The settlement subjects Facebook to 20 years of audits and if Facebook violates any term in the final FTC settlement it is liable for
"civil monetary penalties" up to $16,000 per violation per day.

Please follow this author on Twitter @Tineka_S or comment below.

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