What MySpace did for anonymous creepers, Facebook did for that random guy you met once and gave your last name to: it enables strangers and acquaintances to feign a level of friendship that can get creepy. Real fast. It’s only a matter of time before “Facebook stalking” enters Merriam-Webster, and Facebook’s own tough-to-follow privacy policies only muddy the waters.
But yesterday, there was a ray of hope.
Facebook finally took notice of the Pandora’s box of awkward situations and embarrassing outcomes made possible by unwanted photo tagging, check-ins and accidental overshares. Yesterday, they released a whole slew of major changes, and a handful of them involve our photos, control and privacy. Chris Cox posted a roundup of all the changes on the Facebook Blog, many of which nod to Facebook’s sketchy history with privacy features and fears of Google+.
We’re rounding up what the changes really mean, and answering the questions you’re really thinking: Does this better help me avoid embarrassment and social creepiness? Good news, reluctant sharers: Facebook’s new changes are one teeny step towards a creeper-free future.
1. Eliminates “OH MY GOSH THIS HAS BEEN TAGGED FOR 12 HOURS?!” Syndrome.
It’s every Facebooker’s worst nightmare: you wake up after a fun night of revelry, log onto Facebook to find seven new notifications. You click on those guys, only to discover that the six worst photos of you ever taken in the history of mankind have not only been posted, but tagged. And have been up for the public to gawk at for twelve hours.
Facebook has finally figured out that we might like to approve photos before they’re tagged. Really. Now, when you log in to Facebook, a nice little queue will line up under your profile picture for you to approve or deny and try really hard to forget about.
This feature comes hand-in-hand with another: you can now tag people that you aren’t friends with. By default, if your friends tag you in a photo, it shows up automatically and like normal, but you can also set it so that you have to approve even your dear buddies’ photos of you.
2. Fast-tracks the “Hey….so….do you mind taking it down?” conversation.
Now you can have that awkward conversation with one click.
With the latest update, when you go to untag a photo, you get a set of options:
- Remove the tag, taking it off of your profile but leaving it up on the interwebs.
- Send a pre-made message to your friend asking them, nicely, to remove the photo from Facebook. Facebook nicely adds, “This is the best way to remove the photo from Facebook and help [friend] post better photos in the future.” Unfortunately, “Hey, [friend], in the future, don’t post photos where I look like a dying walrus,” isn’t available also available as advice.
- If the photo tagged was just too much of an offense, block your friend.
3. Makes location-based stalking more difficult. Or way more easy.
But what if you want to tag those photos from last night the next day, when you’re safely away from the venue and any angry ex-boyfriends who may have tried to find you there if you had checked in?
Well, now Facebook Places let’s you tag locations that you aren’t physically around anymore, enabling you to proudly say you were at the hottest joint in town when you’re safely at home the next day. Or, if you’re the type who wants to broadcast your plans, go ahead and tag where you’re going tonight.
Facebook is also trying to revamp check-in deals, but more on that here.
All in all, the changes to Facebook are fun, and including the whole slew of changes outlined by Facebook, it looks like they’re for the better. As far as avoiding real-world stalkers? You’re on your own.