Leading a private life on Facebook? It is going to become easier

Facebook is trying really hard to become a private person's online sanctuary. A slew of changes both recent and in the near future mean that you have a lot more control over who sees your posts, how others can interact with you, and what you can see.

Facebook is also working on making you a lazy shopper.

Here are the changes in a nutshell.

1. Privacy Basics

Privacy Basics is a new section that can be found on the top right of your Facebook page. It is an interactive guide that tells you in detail what others see about you, how others interact with you and what you see. These are everything you need to know about Facebook put into a nice, neat cheat sheet. For example, you can learn about untagging, unfriending, blocking and how to choose an audience for each of your posts. Here are some of the important points from Privacy Basics, which is already accessible through your Facebook page.

- PostsIn case you click "No thanks" to every new Facebook feature, because you cannot wait to get to your buzzing Newsfeed, what Facebook has tried to tell you is that you can control the audience for every single status update, video and photo. This includes custom lists of friends you can create. You can have lists of people you like, and do not like, so you can easily control who you want to hide it from.

- Timeline and taggingYou can choose not to allow friends to post on your Facebook. You can also decide whether you want the world, or maybe just your friends, to see an unflattering photo you have been tagged in.

- Managing your NewsfeedAccording to Privacy Basics, your Newsfeed is different from the next person's because it is based on your own activity on Facebook. What turns up depends on things like who you are friends with and which Pages you like. If you really like someone, you can add them to your Close Friends list, meaning their posts will turn up on your Newsfeed, and you can even choose to get a notification every time they post, which might be a little creepy.

2. Ads

Have you researched, say, gifts for a pregnant friend, then been assaulted with preganancy-related ads by Facebook? Facebook has decided to stop assuming. With upcoming changes that will take effect on Jan 1, 2015, according to Facebook, you can now decide what ads you want to see.

Facebook wrote in its description of changes that it has introduced ad preferences, a new tool accessible from every ad on Facebook that explains why you are seeing a specific ad and lets you add or remove interests. The feature is already accessible from the United States, but Facebook is working on making this happen worldwide in the coming months.

3. Data Policy

Facebook's data policy will also get an upgrade from Jan 1, 2015. It will describe what information Facebook collects and how it is used and shared.

Facebook collects the content and other information provided by you when using its services, including when you sign up for an account, create or share, and message or communicate with others. This can include information in or about the content you provide, such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created.

Facebook also collects information such as the types of content you view or engage with or the frequency and duration of your activities. Facebook also knows about the people and groups you are connected to and how you interact with them- whether you post on their Facebook a lot, or share a lot with. Facebook also collects contact information you provide if you upload, sync or import contacts from a device.

4. Buying through Facebook

In some regions, although apparently not in Singapore, Facebook is testing a Buy button that helps people discover and purchase products without leaving Facebook.

If you use Facebook to buy things, or make financial transactions, like for making a purchase in a game, or make a donation, Facebook collects information about the purchase or transaction. This includes payment information, such as your credit or debit card number and other card information, and other account and authentication information, as well as billing, shipping and contact details.

5. The Facebook Family

Facebook's update in January will also allow you to "get to know how the family of Facebook companies and apps work together".

Facebook said it uses information collected to improve your experience. For example, if you're locked out of your Instagram account, you can use your Facebook information to recover your password. Facebook said it does not change its commitment to protect users' information and privacy.

Click here to see Facebook's statement : http://www.facebook.com/about/terms-updates/?notif_t=data_policy_notice (You'll have to be logged into Facebook to see it).

Source: Facebook

jalmsab@sph.com.sg

This article was first published on Nov 27, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.