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4/4/2014
09:06 AM
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Facebook 'Privacy Dinosaur' Warns Before Posts Go Public

You might think privacy is extinct, but Facebook has introduced a friendly blue dinosaur that warns when you are about to post something publicly.

7 Facebook Wishes For 2014
7 Facebook Wishes For 2014
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Facebook has always had a complicated relationship with its users when it comes to privacy, but the social network has taken a small step to repair that. Now, if you are about to post something publicly -- whether on purpose or by accident -- you might be greeted by a little blue dinosaur.

Over the past few weeks, Facebook has sent a "privacy checkup" message to users about to share a status update, photo, or link that would be visible to anyone, based on the user's privacy settings. The popup displays a cartoon dinosaur using a laptop and asks users to verify with whom they want to share the post.

"Sorry to interrupt," the message says. "You haven't changed who can see your posts lately, so we just wanted to make sure you're sharing this post with the right audience. (Your current setting is Public, though you can change this whenever you post.)"

[Get a grip on your Facebook account. Read 10 Most Misunderstood Facebook Privacy Facts.]

The reminder is an uncharacteristic addition to Facebook, which notoriously has urged users to share more information publicly. One of Facebook's newest features, trending topics, is based on users' public posts, for example.

Facebook's privacy dinosaur caught the eye of the International Association of Privacy Professionals, which commented on it via Twitter: "Are we the only ones who get pumped about seeing Facebook's privacy dinosaur in action?" it asked.

Although it's not clear why Facebook has chosen to remind some users to check their privacy settings, a Facebook spokesperson said that the popup is one of the company's experiments to keep people from sharing with unintended audiences: "We frequently test new ways to help ensure people are sharing with who they want to on Facebook," she said.

Sharing with multiple audiences on Facebook can get tricky. If you change the audience of a post on a one-time basis -- to share an update publicly, for example -- be aware that unless you use the audience selector to change your privacy setting back to friends, all future posts will be public. This applies to both the desktop version of Facebook and its mobile apps.  

If you're unsure who you're about to share a post with, use the audience selector to the left of the Post button in the status update box to make your selection.

To change the audience of a past post, visit your profile and hover over the icon to the right of the post's date, then choose a new audience from the menu.

You can also change the audience of all your past posts. To find this, navigate to your privacy settings page. Below "Who can see my stuff?" click "Limit Past Posts" next to "Limit the audience for posts you've shared with friends of friends or Public?" This will change any content in your timeline that was originally shared publicly or with friends of friends to friends only.

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Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
4/4/2014 | 9:37:40 AM
Hooray for the Facebook privacy dinosuar
Maybe this is a small thing, but it's a very positive step to help people understand the implications of sharing in the Facebook environment. I do some fancy tweaking of my sharing settings from time to time, but I've still managed to share a message more broadly or more narrowly than I intentded from time to time. I wouldn't mind some help from a dinosaur.
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
4/4/2014 | 3:02:55 PM
Re: Hooray for the Facebook privacy dinosuar
I agree this is a smart move, but why the 8 bit Barney?
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
4/4/2014 | 4:02:16 PM
Re: Hooray for the Facebook privacy dinosuar
I Like you, you Like me ...

My first thought was actually that Facebook developers think people who care about privacy are dinosaurs.
Thomas Claburn
IW Pick
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
4/4/2014 | 4:46:38 PM
Re: Hooray for the Facebook privacy dinosuar
>My first thought was actually that Facebook developers think people who care about privacy are dinosaurs.

Trust your first impression.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
4/7/2014 | 9:49:35 AM
Re: Hooray for the Facebook privacy dinosuar
...or that privacy is extinct, just like the dinosaurs. :-)
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
4/14/2014 | 7:14:20 AM
Re: Hooray for the Facebook privacy dinosuar
@ David F. Carr, haha very well said. Keeping in mind the past attitude of Facebook toward privacy, it makes sense as well. But apart from dinosaur, it is an interesting and surprising move from Facebook. It is difficult to understand though what prompted Facebook to add this feature. But this instant popup will certainly help a lot of people who don't really like to explore the options available. 
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
4/4/2014 | 10:17:15 AM
A positive change
It's certainly uncharacteristic of Facebook, but a positive step in a new direction that will help teens and adults manage their settings. I think we've all been in a situation where we shared something accidentally with a broader audience than we intended.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
4/4/2014 | 12:45:07 PM
Re: A positive change
@Kristin yse, even with email when the pull down menu pulled down the wrong name, and I only realized when the unintended recipient replied.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
4/4/2014 | 1:49:50 PM
Re: A positive change
It's great to see Facebook -- the king of sneaky opt-out privacy settings -- looking out for the user. The blue dinosaur warning is a small thing but it helps build trust. It's a PR move but a good one.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
4/4/2014 | 2:09:52 PM
Re: A positive change
@Shane yes, even PR moves could have a positive effect.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
4/14/2014 | 7:14:06 AM
Re : Facebook 'Privacy Dinosaur' Warns Before Posts Go Public
Thank you for this very useful post. I found some very useful information about privacy settings in this post which will be helpful in doing my future posting more precisely. For example I didnít know that changing the audience one time for one post changes the audiences of all future posts.
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