Project Proposal

A downloadable PDF version of this proposal is also available here.

The Team

Our team is composed of five, instead of the usual four, members. We have created five separate roles and assigned each member to a role. The following grid shows the roles, members in those roles, and a short description of each role. Roles are matched with our general interest areas and skills/experience.

Each of the leader positions above defines a group member that is responsible for ensuring that various tasks are completed and/or appropriately divided. They are responsible for appropriately distributing the workload.

The Project & Problem

Facebook Privacy Settings

For our project we will be investigating the interactions users have with privacy settings on the Facebook website. Despite multiple past revisions of the interfaces and interactions surrounding privacy settings, Facebook still neglects certain parts of this ecosystem. Users do not have a common way of visualizing all of their privacy settings for various different aspects of the website, settings are placed in deep in the interaction flow, and there is a general lack of integration of privacy into the overall Facebook experience that meets user expectations and goals.

The interactions surrounding Facebook privacy settings are complex as they apply to many different types of user groups who have varying perceptions and priorities related to privacy. We have recognized that a lot of the current settings related to privacy are not exposed in meaningful/accessible ways and are difficult to edit in-context, outside of the dedicated "Privacy Settings" page. In addition, we have also identified privacy surrounding the view of photo albums and third party applications present opportunities for improvement.

The Users

The user group consists of a large majority of adults and teenagers who use Facebook for a social networking. We plan to engage a range of different user types/groups in our research ranging from college students to middle-aged adults. We are also interested in talking to high-school students and will make a final decision on how to move forward with this pending a discussion on our user research plan and consent approach. We will approach research with college students carefully to make sure that we are not designing something for ourselves.

Their Goals

People want to share information about themselves and their daily routine, pictures and things they find interesting. People also look to find value through applications by interacting with their friends in different ways. They want to be able to understand and control what information they are sharing to different groups like friends, coworkers and the general public including advertisers.

The Initial Design

Some of our initial ideas related to the issues outlined in the Project and the Problem:

  • Viewing privacy information from different pivot/viewpoints on Facebook. Which of my applications have access to which information on my profile. Can I view this information from the viewpoint of the Application?
  • Viewing profile privacy settings from the perspective of user types/groups.
  • On-the-fly editing of privacy settings for all content on your profile. This includes the ability to edit privacy settings of content that has already been posted to the profile.
  • Presenting the user with abstract and easier ways to understand their privacy settings (e.g. coloring different sections of a user profile based on privacy settings).
  • Based on the outcome of our user research, we may find that privacy settings could be simplified into a private and public facing profile. There are a number of interaction challenges and opportunities to address this model.

The Next Steps

Moving forward, the first and most important thing to do is narrow our user group. As members of the 500 million user ecosystem, we will need to make sure we don't design too much for ourselves. We think exploring younger, high school users [~14-18], as well as adult professional users [~30-60] will provide different perspective on the problem, as will communicating with less technically oriented users who might not be so fast to understand the system. Again, clearly identifying a user group soon to go forward will be very important.