Facebook scatters privacy settings all over the place on mobile

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 5, 2021

Every other year, Facebook announces that it has changed the settings of its web version and/or applications. This month's change is rolling out to all users of Facebook's mobile application, and its main purpose is to streamline the layout, make things easier to find, but without removing any of the previous settings.

Facebook's privacy settings were changed in 2018 the last time. Back then, the company claimed that the new design would make "things easier to find", because settings were now found in a single place.

Today's update changes Facebook's setting page significantly. The company reduced the number off categories and decided to rename these to "more closely match people's mental models". Facebook notes its new system takes into account user expectations, so that specific settings are easier to find in the application.

The six categories that Facebook's settings page is divided into are Account, Preferences, Audience and Visibility, Permissions, Your Information, and Community Standards and Legal Policies.

And Privacy? The privacy settings have been moved to the relevant categories, to meet user expectation, according to Facebook.

Facebook's research suggest that "privacy settings can be easier to find when they're presented in short, well-organized menus, and that "grouping settings based on users' mental modes about which privacy topic(s) the settings address can be even more helpful".

Our research shows that using more specific and descriptive names makes settings easier to find. That’s why we’ve unbundled the Privacy Settings category and moved the settings previously contained within it into other categories. Finally, to more easily guide you through important privacy and security settings on Facebook, we’ve added another shortcut to Privacy Checkup, right at the top of the Settings landing page.

As a user of Facebook's mobile application, you will find location privacy settings under permission, post visibility settings under audience and visibility, and the activity log under your information.

Users may also use the search tool to find specific settings, and there is the privacy checkup tool to make some privacy-related changes using the tool.

Closing Words

Many existing users will have difficulties finding specific settings that they accessed in previous versions of Facebook's mobile apps. Critics might argue that the redesigned settings make it more difficult for users to find and change privacy settings; tighter privacy settings may provide Facebook and third-parties with less data, and that may affect the company's bottom line.

Ultimate, users need to go through all the settings one-by-one to make sure that they don't miss an important setting.

Now You: single privacy category or mental models-based approach, which do you prefer?

Facebook scatters privacy settings all over the place on mobile
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Facebook scatters privacy settings all over the place on mobile
Facebook changed the settings page of its mobile applications and mobile web version significantly. Is it a good change or a bad one from a user perspective?
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  1. Bob B. said on August 6, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    I use Facebook as a way to communicate with people. My account is locked down as tight as they allow. Anyone driving by cannot see any information on my page with the exception of my cover shot and profile picture. I do not put any personal information there. I do, however, take great pride in the 4 groups that I own and admin there. One being a great community group that I created for my town. We require that people treat others with respect and they do. So, Facebook used in the right way can be a helpful form of communication and this is how I use it. I also frequently encourage and instruct people how to set their privacy settings there and to not share their phone number, e mail addresses, or anything else of a personal nature there.

    1. Bindere Dundat said on August 6, 2021 at 10:35 pm

      Do you realize that you and others like you, with that kind of a mindset, are using Facebook incorrectly? Keep that privacy sh!t up and you might get banned. j/k!

  2. Sebas said on August 6, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Mental models. Well any Facebook user deserves the mental models, they themselves are already mental modeled by Facebook.

  3. Sean said on August 6, 2021 at 9:24 am

    Facebook is a friggin social malware

  4. JonSnow said on August 5, 2021 at 10:25 pm

    F**k Facebook, if you use it, use it with a VPN and only VPN.

  5. ULBoom said on August 5, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    FB is not content being global malware, this is probably illegal. If anyone gets around to seriously prosecuting Litttle Dweeb.

    Still messing around with something as inane as FB; the mental issues are with him. No idea how to have fun, apparently “I just want someone to like me!!!” Good luck, do something nice for a change.

  6. Anonymous said on August 5, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    No Facebook for me, and no smartphone also.
    (I know, I know…):).

  7. Uwe said on August 5, 2021 at 3:53 pm

    Deleted FB, deleted WhatsApp ( just Threema in use), deleted Instagram… and I feel way more comfortable than ever before.

  8. ULBoom said on August 5, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    Can they make fb any more cryptic? The interface still sucks, you can only view pages now for a few seconds without signing in and they’re changing everything without changing anything.

    FB is still global malware with a Fearless Leader who’s a model for mental something.

    Just another giant wet rug over the internet corporation.

  9. Herman Cost said on August 5, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    Facebook is a disgrace pure and simple. This move of theirs is minor by their standards, but the fact that they have hired a team of researchers to figure out a way to get past end-to-end encryption is is simply mind boggling. I deleted my Facebook account way before Cambridge Analytica and find it hard to understand why anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about their practices would continue to maintain a Facebook account.

  10. Ross Presser said on August 5, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    I deleted my Facebook account in 2017, after Cambridge Analytica. But even before that I never once used the FB app on my phone, or its evil twin FB Messenger. I stuck to the mobile site. I still have yet to understand why I should prefer an app for something like Facebook, which is so ideally suited for a web browser.

  11. Paul(us) said on August 5, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    the best way to explain contradiction in terms is physical and mental health versus Mark Zuckerberg and his shareholders.
    Every year, it is striking that Mark Zukerburg and his shareholders are trying to get the most out of it, sparing no effort to make as much money as possible.
    Jeff Bezos is a steady number two.

  12. Martin P. said on August 5, 2021 at 1:16 pm

    I prefer no Facebook at all…

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