When Google launched its copycat Google+ service earlier this summer, I figured it was only a matter of time before its, um, inspiration—Facebook—moved to erase the few advantages Google's service brought to the game. And this week, the social networking giant did just that, making it easier for users to determine who they're sharing information with on the fly. You know, just like Google+ does.
"You have told us that 'who can see this?' could be clearer across Facebook, so we have made changes to make this more visual and straightforward," Facebook's Chris Cox wrote in a blog post announcing the changes. "[These] improvements make it easier to share posts, photos, tags, and other content with exactly the people you want."
Now, when you share items on Facebook, there's an inline sharing widget that lets you choose which contacts (as arranged in Facebook groups and lists) can access that information; previously, this control was available only globally via Facebook settings. Likewise, individual bits of information in your Facebook profile—home town, photo albums, and so on—are also accompanied by this widget, so you can change their visibility on the fly.
Another common privacy complaint about Facebook was that other people could tag you in a post or photo. Now, you can accept or reject any post or photo you're tagged in before it becomes visible on the service. Facebook made some other related changes as well, such as renaming the Everyone tag to the more obvious Public. And the "check-in" feature is being removed so that you can add your location to any Facebook post or photo.
These changes currently affect only the web version of Facebook: If you're posting from a smartphone or other mobile device, the mobile app you're using will need to be updated before this functionality is provided, Facebook says. But inline controls are coming to mobile apps too, and for unsupported devices, the settings haven't changed.
If you don't see the new inline controls yet, Facebook says they might take a few days to roll out to everyone. In the meantime, you can view Facebook's Changes to How Sharing Works page for more information.