Since the launch of Google+, the so-called “social media wars” have been raging, with Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ adding new features and updates on a regular basis to build and maintain a robust user base. With the launch of Google+, privacy and content control created a lot of buzz and interest for the site. This week, Facebook is adding several few new privacy features of its own – though there is debate over whether this is in direct response to the launch of Google+. Right now, Facebook says the changes are “coming soon,” so keep your eye out for them this week. Here’s a rundown of these new features – and what they mean for Facebook profile users, as well as some insights on how some of these updates may affect businesses using Facebook for online marketing.  

Inline Profile Controls: The main emphasis of the new updates centers on making managing privacy and sharing settings on Facebook easier by adding controls directly to your profile rather than forcing you to navigate through multiple pages. Now, you’ll be able to designate the privacy on any content on your profile, like your photo albums, with one click, right from the relevant page.

Simplified Settings Page: Along with the on-page privacy control updates, Facebook is simplifying its settings page, moving some to these inline controls and replacing or removing others.

Inline Post Controls: Facebook is making the ability to control who sees specific posts more obvious by emphasizing inline content controls on individual status updates. You will see an icon along with a label next to the “Post” button on status updates, very similar to Google+’s emphasis on sharing content to specific circles.

According to Facebook: “This dropdown menu will be expanding over time to include smaller groups of people you may want to share with, like co-workers, Friend Lists you’ve created, and Groups you’re a member of. These will make it easy to quickly select exactly the audience you want for any post.”

Further, Facebook is changing the option to share with “Everyone” to “Public” to more explicitly enforce that status updates posted to “Public” will be available to anyone on the Internet. You can learn more about these sharing options from Facebook’s.

Status Update Privacy Editing: In the past, when you shared a status update on Facebook, if you didn’t want certain people to see it later, you had to delete the post. With these new features, you’ll be able to edit the visibility of a post after you share it using the inline controls.

Expanded Tagging Options: Previously, you had to be a friend with someone or like a business page to tag them in content. Going forward, you’ll be able to tag anyone on Facebook – which means anyone will be able to tag you, too. Users who are tagged by non-friends will be able to approve or reject the tag before it appears on their profile. This feature may be a visibility boost for businesses using Facebook, but it will also create more need for monitoring, as both fans and potential “foes” of your business will be able to tag brands in status updates, pictures, and videos, making it a potentially powerful tool for reputation management.

Approval on Photo Tags: You’ll now have the ability to approve or reject Facebook photo tags that other people add in photos of you – before the tag is visible to other Facebook users. You’ll also have more options regarding tag and content control, including removing it from your profile, removing the tag, messaging the content owner, requesting content removal, and blocking the content owner.

Location Tagging: You will be able to add your location to anything, wherever you are – even if you’re not on a mobile device. This has potential to be a boost for businesses using Facebook for marketing, as users will be able to designate specific locations in posts without using a smart phone.

View Profile As: Did you know that you can see what your profile looks like to another Facebook user? That way, you can check your privacy settings to make sure your profile is displaying correctly based on different permissions and privacy controls. With the new features, you’ll be able to perform this task straight from a “View Profile As” button on your profile itself rather than navigating multiple settings pages.

Overall, these changes signal that Facebook is taking privacy concerns seriously and is interested in building a more user-friendly platform, especially now that Google+ has begun building buzz with powerful privacy features from the start and lots of potential for local marketing. That means for businesses wanting to reach consumers online, Facebook is still an important place to have an active, dynamic presence.

What do you think about these new Facebook privacy settings? Will this change how you use Facebook? Is this a blow to Google+, which generated lots of buzz around its content sharing control options? Share your thoughts about these new Facebook features in a comment!

About Tiffany Monhollon
As the lead blogger for ReachCast, Tiffany shares practical tips and insights  on optimizing your business web presence. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.