Facebook is bringing back a highly useful feature that ended up causing a huge problem for the company and its users.
On Tuesday, Facebook announced that it was reinstating the “View As Public” functionality. This is a security feature that allows users to see what their profile looks like to people they’re not Friends with on Facebook. Users will also be able to easily make changes to their publicly available information with a new “Edit Public Profile” button.
Today, we’re making it easier for people to manage their publicly visible information on Facebook with two updates: (1) we’re bringing back the “View As Public” feature and (2) we’re adding an “Edit Public Details” button directly to profiles. pic.twitter.com/zI5bVwodjp
— Facebook (@facebook) May 14, 2019
View As was a really simple and useful way to review what your publicly available profile looked like. So why did Facebook get rid of it in the first place?
In September 2018, Facebook announced that up to 50 million accounts had been breached, and later updated that figure to say that hackers accessed the personal information of 29 million users. The hackers turned out to be spammers trying to get personal information for marketing.
The hackers did their dirty work by exploiting a vulnerability in the View As feature. So while Facebook was investigating and shoring up its platform, it suspended the feature. Facebook updated its original September 2018 blog post with the news that View As was back Tuesday.
View As also let users glimpse their profile from the perspective of individual users, not just categories of people like the “public.” Apparently, that feature was more problematic from a security standpoint, so it isn’t back yet.
Facebook giveth, and Facebook taketh away.