In response to concerns from students and faculty members about the lack of privacy settings on the University’s new online directory, MCommunity, the University’s Information Technology Services made a portion of the website more secure.

On Saturday, ITS eliminated the “Groups” tab, which previously allowed MCommunity users to view other users’ group memberships. With the change, users can still see their own groups when logged in, but they can only view basic information on others users’ profiles. ITS also removed the feature allowing individuals to search for groups that contain a specific person.

Holly Nielsen, ITS interim executive director of application and information services, said ITS made the change to MCommunity — which was launched on July 17 — after students and faculty members complained about the website’s lax regard of their privacy. At a Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs meeting last month, Kate Barald, SACUA chair and a professor in the Medical School and College of Engineering, voiced students’ concerns on the issue and described a student who didn’t want the public to know he belonged to LGBTQ groups.

“After hearing about the issue, we acted pretty quickly,” Nielson said. “We had to assess the exact nature of the problem and find an appropriate solution.”

ITS conferred with the Office of the Provost and the Office of General Counsel before making any final decisions and then contacted the Michigan Student Assembly to inform them of the change before it was finalized, according to Nielson.

While it is no longer possible to see what groups a person belongs to, users can still see a group’s member list if the group’s owners enable a setting that makes the list visible to everyone.

Nielson said she hasn’t heard any complaints about the updated website.

Though some students were previously unhappy about MCommunity’s Groups feature, many didn’t know it existed.

Engineering sophomore Bethany Meyer said she wasn’t aware of the former online directory privacy setting, but she wouldn’t have been concerned about the Groups tab.

“I don’t think it would be a problem,” Meyer said. “I mean, I put that kind of stuff on a résumé, so I think it would probably be OK.”

Though LSA freshman David Carlson didn’t know his groups were visible to anyone logged into MCommunity, he said he understands why the change was made.

“I don’t see a problem with (the change),” Carlson said. “I guess it’s more private and better for the student body as a whole.”

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