In September, Facebook removed one of the simplest, smartest, and most important features it had for privacy and security: the "View As" button.
It was supposed to be temporary, but nearly three months later it's still gone. It's a big deal, and users are upset about it.
"View As" allowed Facebook users to temporarily see what their profiles looked like through the eyes of other Facebook users. It was very useful if you wanted to be sure you hadn't accidentally say, posted photos of your kids with a public setting, or inadvertently left up an incriminating college party photo from years ago, while you're in the middle of a job search.
Or if you just wanted to do a basic security checkup on the data you've shared over the years.
But attackers hacked "View As," Facebook reported in a blog post almost three months ago, which "allowed them to steal Facebook access tokens which they could then use to take over people's accounts."
Almost 50 million accounts were affected, and one of Facebook's responses was to shut off "View As" "temporarily ... while we conduct a thorough security review."
That was almost three months ago. Nothing has happened since then that the public can see. A Facebook spokesperson told me via email only that: "We will share updates when they are available."
In other words, for now, no timeline. That's hugely embarrassing for Facebook, or at least should be.
Because in a time when it's almost impossible to keep up with the privacy and security news about Facebook -- say, the new photo-related data leak from last week that affected 6.8 million users, or the insanely creepy patent Facebook sought for technology that lets them predict where users will travel before the users themselves know - this "View As" business stands out to me as shocking.
Failing to fix and return "View As" functionality is the equivalent of Facebook flying a white flag.
If it can't keep your information private while you're literally using a function designed to hep you control privacy, how can it expect users to have faith in Facebook's ability to do anything else?
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