Facebook's new Help Center easier to navigate than Timeline

Oct. 2, 2012 at 12:10 PM ET

Facebook /
Facebook's new Help Center.

On Tuesday, the world's largest social network rolled out a new, slick and very streamlined version of the Help Center it first introduced in 2007, a revamp that serves both users and Facebook's recent settlement with the Federal Trade Commission regarding user privacy. What's more, this slick, streamlined update to the site's tech support section is so easy to navigate, you'll wonder why Facebook won't make your headache-inducing Timeline this intuitive.

"We are pleased to announce a new, more streamlined design for the Help Center, and the rollout of our Support Dashboard to the international Facebook community," Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said in a statement. "Both of these tools aim to provide the people who use our service with access to the information they need from Facebook as quickly and as efficiently as possible. These resources demonstrate our commitment to transparency and our continued effort to ensure that the people who use Facebook can create the experience that is right for them."

The new Help Center will come as a welcome change to Facebook users who've every found themselves lost among user-posted questions answered by other users with questionable degrees of veracity. As a blog post introducing the new Facebook Help Center describes:

Our new Help Center is designed to get you the information you need in just a few clicks. Here are some of the highlights from the Help Center homepage:

  • The homepage now features six major topics, including things like “See What's New on Facebook" — which links to an overview of our new features and products — and "Learn the Privacy Basics" – which takes you to information about how sharing and control work on Facebook. We can also personalize these topics based on how you are using Facebook. For example, if you’re not logged into Facebook, you may see information about how to create an account or tips on resetting your Facebook password.
  • We’ve highlighted a list of popular questions as well as top Facebook Pages you can like to stay up-to-date on our latest tips and feature announcements.
  • Along the left you’ll see our new navigation, designed to make it easier for you to browse for the information you’re looking for.

In August, the FTC announced its settlement with the social network, "resolving charges that Facebook deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public."

As privacy advocates noted, the settlement did not require Facebook to the previous privacy enjoyed by users in its early days. It did, however, require Facebook, in part, to give "consumers clear and prominent notice and obtaining their express consent before sharing their information beyond their privacy settings" and maintain "a comprehensive privacy program to protect consumers' information, and by obtaining biennial privacy audits from an independent third party."

Facebook's update also addresses another common complaint on Facebook — as well as most other monolithic websites that refuse to offer an 800 number for customer support: A way to track reports you've filed through the website a.k.a. "More Transparency in Reporting":

Today we're also announcing that another one of our tools, our Support Dashboard, is now available to 100 percent of Facebook users around the world. Originally launched in April 2012, the Support Dashboard is a tool designed to help you track the progress of the reports you make about photos and profiles, which are the most commonly reported types of content.

Once you report content to us using the report links, you’ll be able to see the Support Dashboard in your "Account Settings." From your Support Dashboard you can see when we review your report, what action we took and why we took that action. We’ll also send you a notification when the status of your report changes.

The reports you make enable our team to quickly and effectively remove abusive content from Facebook. We’re proud to be able to offer a tool that gives you more insight into your reports and hopefully inspires you to report actionable content to Facebook.

For even more information about what happens after you click “Report,” check out the following note from our Facebook Safety Page

The redesign of the Help Center and the Support Dashboard are two examples of our continuous effort to provide you with resources to help you better understand and use Facebook.

Fingers crossed that this "continuous effort" is someday applied to Timeline.

Helen A.S. Popkin goes blah blah blah online privacy, then asks you to join her on Twitter and/or Facebook. Also, Google+.  Because that's how she rolls.

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