Facebook Inc. is launching a new tool that will help users quickly check out and customize their privacy settings.

Branded the new feature as Privacy Checkup, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company will be pushing it out around the world over the next two weeks, starting today. While Privacy Checkup doesn’t add any new privacy settings or controls, it pulls together existing privacy settings and makes them more visible to Facebook users.

When users first log in, Facebook will prompt them to start the Privacy Checkup tool. Users can either choose to start reviewing their settings, or put it off until later, but the tool is always available in the top right hand corner of every page.

(Image: Facebook).
(Image: Facebook).

Once users opt to run Privacy Checkup, their first step is to decide who can view their posts. Current settings include being able to share posts with just friends, with the public, or with a limited list of people.

The second step involves going through all the apps that users have connected to their Facebook accounts, giving them the chance to delete apps they never use or no longer want, or the chance to control which apps are visible to specific audiences.

Next, Privacy Checkup guides users towards changing the visibility of their personal information. That can include their email address, their birthdays, what city they live in, where they went to school, and so on, giving them the option to pick certain ones to show publicly.

Finally, when wrapping up with Privacy Checkup, users get a reminder letting them know they can review their settings at any time. Facebook also displays links to some of its user privacy policies.

So far, the tool will only be available for the desktop, and Facebook will be tracking user feedback before it makes any tweaks to its mobile site.

What’s important to note is that Facebook already made these controls available to its users before – now, it’s just making them more visible, said Paddy Underwood, a product manager at Facebook.

“Nothing is changing about how privacy works at Facebook,” Underwood said. “We’re not adding any settings, changing any settings, nothing … We’ve been trying to listen closely to user feedback and help people make sure they’re sharing what they want, and we’ve been doing it a bit more proactively than usual.”

So while Privacy Checkup isn’t a major, earth-shattering update, it does go some way towards addressing mounting concerns around privacy – and it’s a good step towards reminding users they can take at least some of their personal privacy into their own hands.

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