Facebook has introduced a new feature that lets users lock their profiles, preventing anyone not friends with them from seeing any photos or posts shared on the page, or expanding the profile picture. Though aimed at ensuring the safety of women users, even men will be able to opt for the locked profile feature. The feature will roll out to all users India over the course of the next week.
Facebook Product Manager Roxna Irani said the feature, which comes as a successor of the profile picture guard, has taken into account feedback from users. “We started first with the profile, because that was the picture that women were most nervous about being downloaded and shared. And so that’s when we first launched profile picture guard. And then over time, we realised it extends beyond the current profile picture to other photos as well,” Irani said over a video call, underlining how the new feature has been the culmination of a “multi-year journey”.
Once the profile lock is enabled, users will be able to see just the profile pictures of the person, but will not be able to expand it or see anything else on the page. A blue badge will show that the profile is locked. The feature is accessed from the more options in profile, where users will have to tap on Lock Profile. The process will clearly onboard the users on what locking a profile means.
Once this feature is activated, users will not be able to post publicly. A pop up will appear reminding the user that the profile is locked. A public post will be possible only once the profile is unlocked again. Users can still be tagged on other people’s posts, but these will not appear on the timeline of the user till they allow it.
Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director, Facebook -India, South & Central Asia, said Facebook has a “multi-pronged approach in terms of looking at having the right policies and enforcing them”. She said the social network has worked to ensure there is enough community education in terms of the tools that help users, secure their privacy, and protect themselves.
She said Facebook’s partnerships with the civil society organisations work as an excellent input factor in terms of research at the product and programmatic levels. Das underlined how photos safety was an important factor when it comes to online access for women, especially in South Asia where women are 51% less likely to use mobile internet.