Facebook privacy now defaults to friends only

Story highlights

New Facebook users will have privacy settings default to "Friends"

Previously, the default made users' posts public

Facebook is also rolling out a "privacy checkup" for existing users

U.S. senator: "Facebook's new privacy policy is a laudable change"

CNN  — 

Facebook privacy just got a little more private.

Starting Thursday, new users of the site will have their privacy settings default to “Friends,” instead of “Public,” which had been the case for adults for the past several years.

And in the coming weeks, returning users will be prompted to take a close look at their privacy settings and other account information when they log in.

“We want to do all we can to put power and control in people’s hands,” Facebook said in a post Thursday. “This new tool is designed to help people make sure they are sharing with just the audience they want.”

The shift addresses one of the major complaints privacy advocates have had with the social platform. While Facebook has long maintained that its privacy controls are robust, critics have argued they’re hard for some users to understand. Unsavvy users may not realize they’re broadcasting their thoughts to the world by default, some say.

Thursday’s news was greeted warmly by some.

“Facebook’s new privacy policy is a laudable change,” U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia said in a post on the site. “As I said in the past, it should be up to the user to decide how much information they want to share with the public. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction for strengthening online privacy protections, and I urge other online companies to follow suit.”

Under the change, first-time users will be asked specifically what they want their audience to be when they make their first post. If they don’t respond, it defaults to friends only.

The Privacy Checkup feature for existing users – which comes with its own cuddly dinosaur mascot – was announced last month but is being implemented now.

It marks the latest in a series of privacy tweaks Facebook has made in recent months as it works to make users more comfortable about sharing their information on the site.

Last month, Facebook rolled out the ability to log in “anonymously,” preventing other websites and third-party apps from collecting data about you.