News & Views
In appreciation of Facebook’s blue dinosaur

If you are one of the mavericks who choose to live dangerously by posting all of your Facebook content ‘publicly’, then you may soon be receiving a visit from a little blue dinosaur.

Facebook is currently testing a new ‘Privacy Check-up’ on a small sub-set of users. Accompanied by an image of a small, friendly-looking dinosaur, its purpose is to ensure that you know exactly what your current privacy settings are, and by extension, that you know precisely who is going to see that status, photo or video you are about to post. “We frequently test new ways to help ensure people are sharing with who they want to on Facebook,” a spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal.

On the surface, this doesn’t do Facebook much good. After all, the site’s M.O. has always been to harvest as much personal information as possible, right? That might have been the case in the past, but Facebook’s inscrutable privacy settings have long been a bone of contention for many users. The introduction of the privacy check-up dinosaur might finally go some way towards building consumer trust, notes Will Oremus at Slate: “Facebook understands more than ever that maintaining its users’ trust – or at least a modicum of it – is crucial to its long-term survival…Facebook recognises that no one wins when people accidentally share things with people they didn’t mean to share them with.”

If nothing else, the blue dinosaur serves as some much-needed PR; as Facebook’s privacy settings are notoriously unintelligible to average consumers, it is good to see the network taking steps to salvage its public image where privacy is concerned, and educate its users in how to post content securely and responsibly. The International Association of Privacy Professionals has even tweeted its support of the blue dinosaur and what it stands for.

To give yourself a Facebook privacy check-up, simply click on the padlock icon on the top right corner of the Facebook home screen. From there, you can adjust your privacy settings.

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