Facebook Overhauls Privacy Options, Kills Check-ins on Mobile App

Facebook's decision to quietly shutter the foursquare-like "Places" function of its mobile app is getting lots of attention (its much-hated Beacon ad platform went less quietly in late 2009). But the news comes at the same time that Facebook has launched new privacy controls very similar to Google+ Circles and has made it easier to access several other privacy controls users had requested.

Like Circles, Facebook users can choose whether their posts and photos are public, shared with friends or with a custom group from a drop-down menu on the post itself. It's not clear whether the default is "public" or "friends."

The "profile edit" page also contains this menu so users can determine who sees what on their profile -- no more navigating to the settings page.

Also, when someone tags you in a photo or post, you receive an alert so you can approve or remove the tag from the post before it hits your profile page.

To remove tags, users have he following options: remove the tagged item from your profile, message the photo owner or tagger and request the content get be taken down, or block the user (which will also remove the tag).

Facebook is also phasing out its "places" feature for smartphone apps. Users can now add location data to any post, regardless of their actual location -- but that's far from a check-in. 

Previous product shut downs for Facebook include its virtual gift shop in July 2010 and its Lite version in April 2010. In 2009, Facebook killed its ad platform Beacon following public outcry and a class-action lawsuit. Beacon, launched in 2007, posted member activity on third-party sites to users' Facebook accounts without their approval.

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