Analyzing Facebook's Privacy Redesigns
It might be fair to say that all design is manipulative on some level, seeking to influence people's attention, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. But according to a new article on TechCrunch, the designers at Facebook have taken the manipulations of commercial web design to a new level, purposefully and cleverly obfuscating the extent to which users grant permission to access and use their personal information. In the article, 5 Design Tricks Facebook Uses To Affect Your Privacy Decisions author Avi Charkham details just how the most recent redesign of privacy controls on Facebook was engineered to get users to reveal the most information about themselves to the apps they enable.
The article breaks down five privacy-related design changes, including things like replacing a two-button choice with a single button offering no choice, replacing full text disclosures with tiny symbols you have to hover over to reveal information, and placing privacy details below the action line.
Only time will tell if the redesigns backfire and confused or annoyed users actually end up spending less time (and sharing less information) on Facebook. If after reading the article you're concerned about what you might have unknowingly enabled, there are services such as MyPermissions, that can reveal exactly which apps are accessing your data.
The article comes in the context of other bad news for the social media giant. Shares of Facebook have lost more than half their value since peaking in May, and Facebook has one of the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any major e-business, ranking near the bottom of a list of over 200 companies (only a few cable companies and electric utilities ranked lower).