The 'Privacy Dinosaur' urges Facebook users to check their privacy settings

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy

Facebook dinosaurFacebook has introduced a blue cartoon Zuckersaurus-Rex, or some other type of dinosaur, to warn users when they are about to post something publicly.

Facebook has always had an interesting relationship with its users and their privacy.

Now, users who haven't adjusted their privacy settings will see the dino-message whenever they attempt to share a status update, link or photo that would otherwise be visible to everyone.

Accidentally sharing a public post on Facebook is all too easy. If a user changes the audience of a post on a one-time basis, i.e. to share an update publicly, for example, then all future posts will be made public until the privacy settings are changed again.

Now, under such circumstances, a popup message will be displayed, saying:

Privacy dinosaur Facebook message

Sorry to interrupt. You haven't changed who can see your posts lately, so we just wanted to make sure you're sharing this post with the right audience. (Your current setting is Public, though you can change this whenever you post.)

The message then asks for confirmation of whom the user would like to share the post with - friends only, or everyone.

This privacy check is a welcome addition that should help users manage their settings, as well as generate some positive PR for the company, as it has also been endorsed by privacy advocates, including the International Association of Privacy Professionals, which tweeted:

IAPP tweet

Are we the only ones who get pumped about seeing Facebook's privacy dinosaur in action?

Whether the dinosaur message is here to stay is not known at this time though - the company says the new feature is nothing more than an experiment.

A spokesperson for Facebook said:

We frequently test new ways to help ensure people are sharing with who they want to on Facebook.

Whatever happens with the dinosaur message, checking your privacy settings remains vitally important and is something that everyone should do, as evidenced by recent stories, such as the girl who lost her father an $80,000 settlement after bragging of the win on Facebook.

Even those on the wrong side of the law could benefit from knowing who they are sharing updates with, as in the cases of Marcin Zendarski who posted pictures of the cannabis he had grown in his prison cell, and alleged burglar Rolando Lozano who discovered that even the police know how to use social media.

How to check your Facebook privacy settings

So, to check your own privacy settings on a desktop machine, click the padlock icon found on the upper right of your screen and then click on "Who can see my stuff?"

If you are using a mobile iOS app, you can tap on "More" on the bottom right and then scroll down to "Privacy shortcuts."

Users of the Facebook Android app can tap the "hamburger" icon, found on the top left of the screen, and then navigate down to privacy settings.

For even more advice on staying safe and secure on Facebook, Naked Security readers can check out our first 5 tips as well as these additional 5 nuggets of advice, and don't forget to follow us on Facebook to get the latest security news, advice and opinion.

Image of dinosaur courtesy of Shutterstock.

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5 Responses to The 'Privacy Dinosaur' urges Facebook users to check their privacy settings

  1. "The 'Privacy Dinosaur", wow... here's a thought FB, why not have account locked down from the start and let users change settings to suit their needs from a secure state?

    FB users should check out this site.
    http://facecrooks.com/

    • Does anyone else see the irony in taking advice from an animal that failed to adapt to it's environment and consequently went extinct?

  2. I had this dinosaur pop on me around a month or two ago.
    It is indeed a nice addition to Facebook.

  3. John "jaQ" Andrews · 146 days ago

    Might be nice if they made the UI more explicit about changing audiences on a per-post basis. I'm sure there are some people who change that setting for every post, meticulously courting different readers for different updates - but most people set it once and forget it.

  4. Ambianca · 144 days ago

    "Facebook has always had an interesting relationship with its users and their privacy."

    Characterizing Facebook's attitude toward privacy as "interesting" is, in my view, vastly more generous and charitable than they deserve. If they were really concerned about their users' privacy, then every change in their policies and "features" would be opt-in. Their constant changing of privacy settings without notice—and always in ways that constitute an attack on privacy—is what ultimately led to my terminating my account.

    And that's not counting the cookies they leave on their users' computers, which are like little vermin in the walls—listening, tracking, spying—all to enrich a jerk who once called his users "dumb f_cks". Unfortunately, there are now well over a billion people who seem only too happy to prove him right.

    There are so many ways that Facebook can expose you and your information to others without your knowledge or consent that the only reasonable option is to not have a Facebook account at all. So I don't.

    I suppose the blue dinosaur is a good thing, but it hardly offsets the mega-horde of other privacy abuses that no rational, responsible user who values privacy should have to tolerate.

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About the author

Lee Munson is the founder of Security FAQs, a social media manager with BH Consulting and a blogger with a huge passion for information security.