Monday, May 24, 2010

Facebook Privacy UI Redesign Ideas

Facebook has been taking a (well-deserved) beating lately for all its privacy (or lack of) controls. No longer is Facebook getting beat up in the world of blogs and tech journals, now it's taking fire from the likes of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and even has the cover of Time magazine. The New York Times took the time to display all of Facebook's privacy options as one flow chart, attempting to display how 50 settings with 170 options, bolstered by its 5,830 word privacy policy.

Smaller version of Facebook privacy options flow chart.
See the image in context at The New York Times.

Fortune magazine gathered a few user experience designers and asked them to prototype some revisions to Facebook's privacy settings. Fortune made a gallery of a dozen samples, consisting of a brief description for each sample. While the gallery could have been a bit more robust, the teaser-style images certainly provide some interesting perspectives on how to minimize the massive confusion the current Facebook privacy screens create. Simple suggestions include embedding the privacy options inline with the items to control, and showing numbers next to grouping options (how many users does "friends of friends" encompass?). A couple samples are below.

Sample showing user count for each option.

Sample showing privacy options inline with data to be affected.

This morning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed privacy concerns in a column in The Washington Post (From Facebook, answering privacy concerns with new settings). From the column:

The biggest message we have heard recently is that people want easier control over their information. Simply put, many of you thought our controls were too complex. [...] In the coming weeks, we will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use.

The column goes into more detail on the overall privacy debacle, but I'll leave that up to you to read, I'm just looking at the UI options today. Whether or not anything we see in the sample UIs will make its way into the screens on Facebook is anybody's guess, but from the column, we should know in a few weeks.

Additional Stories:

Update (May 25): Mashable reports New Facebook Privacy Controls Arrive on Wednesday. That's tomorrow for those not near a calendar.

Update (May 26): It's Wednesday, and no new privacy controls. Although Facebook did announce them, show a screen shot, and say they'd be coming in the next few weeks. Mashable reports BREAKING: Facebook Announces New Privacy Features.

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