Facebook and the Privacy Revolution


Facebook has been undergoing a privacy revolution of sorts in the last couple of years. Every now and then, there seems to be a storm over privacy issues which dies down only to crop-up again after a few months. So, where has Facebook gone wrong in its quest to settle the privacy issues?
What do the following terms mean in Facebook terminology from a privacy perspective – Private, Public, Opt-in, Opt-out, Friends, Friends of Friends, and Networks. This post explains Facebook privacy in layman’s terms.

What are Facebook Privacy Settings?

The Privacy Settings on your Facebook profile determine who can access your

  • Personal Information and Posts – Who can see your photos and videos, and who can post on your wall
  • Contact Information – Helps you decide who can contact you on Facebook and see your contact information and email address
  • Friends, Tags & Connections – This setting determines whether your friends, tags and connections display on your profile or not
  • Search – This setting determines who can see your search result on Facebook and in search engines
  • Block List – This setting determines who can interact with you on Facebook

Each of these privacy heads have sub-settings which can usually be set to

* Everyone

* Friends Only

* Friends of Friends

* Customize

When you choose the ‘Customize’ option, it allows you to choose either

  • Friends of friends
  • Friends only
  • Specific people
  • Only Me

There’s also an option to hide the information from certain people using ‘Hide this from’ option.

As you can see, Facebook offers enormous flexibility when it comes to dealing with privacy. However, the flexibility comes at the huge cost of added complexity – something that a majority of Facebook users hate.

Why should you be concerned about Privacy Settings?

Exposing photographs and sensitive information to strangers can land you in trouble. With the increasing popularity of social networks, the number of online frauds has also increased exponentially. Hackers can dupe people online by getting access to their personal information.

Let’s face it – all social networks have all sorts of people and Facebook is no exception. There is no shortage of pedophiles looking for soft targets and you certainly don’t want your private photos to be accessible by such people.

What Privacy Settings should you choose?

While the whole idea of social networks like Facebook is getting connected to an extended network of friends and family, one should be careful not to take it too far. I advise the following tips in order to ensure that you privacy is preserved on Facebook.

  • Do not set any of your privacy settings to ‘Everyone’. ‘Friends of Friends’ are how far you should go and feel safe.
  • Make sure to use your Friend lists. This ensures that you are in good company.
  • Remove your profile from Facebook search results so that strangers can’t find and contact you.
  • Remove yourself from Google & other public search listings on Facebook
  • Make sure that only you can tag photos with your name on Facebook. Choose ‘None of my networks’ for ‘Photos tagged of you’
  • Protect your albums and make them viewable only to friends.
  • Ensure that your News Feed and Wall Privacy Page only have necessary details – Remove your year of birth. Who ever wants to celebrate your birthday can tell what day it is with just your day and month of birth. Don’t make your Facebook profile an id thief’s haven.
  • Be careful in what applications/ games you install
  • Ensure that your contact information is private
  • Keep your friends private

If you are not careful about your privacy settings on Facebook, you are heading for massive trouble. Make sure to review and update your Facebook privacy settings ASAP if you’ve not done so already. Have any questions or concerns regarding Facebook privacy, just let us know and we’ll help you out.

Privacy is all about following a simple rule – Never tell someone what he/ she does not need to know and Facebook is no exception to this rule.

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