In 2010, privacy was the most controversial topic surrounding Facebook and its users. A reporter from Fortune Magazine online asked me to contribute to an article exploring how Facebook could address some of its major privacy issues. My recommendations, along with those from other UX designers, was published in the article “Hey Facebook! Here’s your privacy redesign.”
My research exposed that privacy on Facebook needs to be treated as a system of multiple interconnected pieces. Focusing only on redesigning the privacy settings page would not solve some of the core issues that people have understanding and managing their privacy. I identified the two primary privacy problems facing Facebook today as the unwanted public disclosure of information and the difficult management of social networks. My solutions aimed to:
1. Increase visibility of privacy information by placing it in context of user interactions
2. Assure users that information they disclose is being disclosed to the intended audience
3. Improve clarity around privacy settings
I detailed my approach to this challenge in two blog posts:
An Exercise in User Experience Design to Redesign Facebook’s Privacy Settings
Soon after I contributed these ideas to the Fortune article, Facebook introduced a feature called “Facebook Groups” that very closely mirrored many of the ideas I had proposed. Fortune revisited my ideas in the article “Facebook Groups: You saw it here first,” which compared my suggested approach to what was actually implemented.
Additionally, almost a year after the Fortune articles were published, Facebook introduced a “Smart Lists” capability that was almost identical to the “Smart Lists” capability I proposed in the initial concept. While it’s not known whether my ideas directly influenced Facebook’s strategy, my ideas were closely aligned with how Facebook ultimately aimed to address privacy concerns on the social network.