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What you need to know about Steam's new privacy settings

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Earlier this week, Steam received an overhaul of its privacy settings. It's to be expected especially after the recent Facebook debacle that put a lot more pressure on social media and tech platforms to protect user data. Steam's changes give the user absolute control over the information shared with the public. The downside of this is that Steam Spy, the company that gathers information from Steam users about the games they play, and in turn helps users to make decisions about which games to purchase, cannot fulfill its function as effectively (or at all) as before.

But let's first look at the Steam user information that is now locked away - if the user so chooses.

New Steam Privacy Settings

The new settings divide your profile into five categories, and these can, each in turn, be selected to reveal information about you and the games you play, choosing from three settings; "Public," "Friends Only," or "Private."

The first category, "My Profile," is a summary of your whole profile, meaning, your friend's list, badges, Steam level, showcases, comments, and the groups you belong to. The second section is all about the games you play and includes things like your library, wish list, achievements, and playtime. Secondly, it also shows which game you're currently playing and if you're seen as being "in-game." Lastly, this section also has a tick box for hiding your total play time that you can select separately even if you chose to put this section on say Public.

The third category includes details about your Inventory and shows details about the items you've collected that are eligible for Trading. It also includes your Trading Cards and extra copies of Steam Gifts. Hiding these details might help with preventing Steam users from being exploited in games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds where users are willing to pay thousands to own say an in-game skirt. This category also has a tick box that can hide the details about your Steam Gifts even if the overall category is set to Public.

In section four you decide who can comment on your profile, and section five allows you to set the privacy settings of your screenshots. Unfortunately, these have to be selected per game, I would've preferred if you could have the choice that applies to all screenshots in all games as well.

About Steam Spy

Let's talk about Steam Spy for a moment. It had an important role to play in showing potential buyers a more accurate picture of the game in question. We all know about the hype-jargon developers and publishers use to sell games (this or that game shipped millions of units), whereas Steam Spy showed the actual number of units that are currently being played. Steam Spy also gives customers a quick overall look at how 'healthy' a game is. For example, it shows how many players initially bought the game, and how many are currently still playing it, as well as the total playtime. It also shows the release date, price, metascore, and a lot of other important details.

With the new Privacy Settings, Steam Spy can still produce a report, but of course, it will be flawed as it will draw information from profiles with different settings.

What do you think about the new Privacy Settings for Steam?

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