Facebook announced a new range of privacy improvements this week, including revised default settings for new users, and a new tool to help existing users to review their current settings. Those signing up for Facebook will now find that, by default, their posts will be shared only with friends, although they will of course have the option to change this to share their posts with a wider or narrower audience as desired.
Those already using Facebook will soon be presented with the social networks new Privacy Checkup Tool, presented to them by a cheerful new mascot in the form of a little blue dinosaur.
The dinosaur will help new users to navigate the choppy waters of privacy control too. "Hi Charlie!" it says. "Before you post, we wanted to make sure youre sharing with who you want. Who would you like to see your post?"
If all of this sounds a little familiar, thats because it is. The dinosaur seems to be channeling the ghost of Clippy, Microsofts supremely irritating digital assistant that often intruded as users tried to get on with their work in Office, with annoyingly "helpful" prompts like "It looks like youre writing a letter. Would you like help?"
The dinosaur will help users managing other privacy settings too, including a step-by-step guide that Facebook says will "review things like who theyre posting to, which apps they use, and the privacy of key pieces of information on their profile."
And just like Clippy, the dinosaur wont be afraid to interrupt you when youre trying to get something done.
As The New York Times" Bits blog notes, many in the tech community have already dubbed the dinosaur the "Zuckasaurus" - after Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg - although it should be noted that this is not its official designation.
The company reportedly tested numerous other mascots and icons, including speech bubbles and a robot, but the dinosaur came out top in internal testing. Raylene Yung from Facebooks privacy management group told Bits: "Our team looked at a few different characters, saw the dinosaur and just thought he was the friendliest and best choice. Once we tried him out, we saw some great results and welcomed him to the team."