Protecting Your Privacy on facebook
Social media is designed for sharing. It is that simple. It facilitates giving information to other people. So what about your privacy – how do you protect it?
The information here is specific to facebook, but the same general advice applies to all social media. There are some things you can do that will help you protect your privacy online.
For facebook, start at http://www.facebook.com/privacy/explanation.php, where you will find some good and easy to understand information about privacy on facebook. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has several stimulating articles on facebook and privacy that may be worth a read. See for example, http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/12/who-knows-who-your-facebook-friends-are
Protect YOUR Password & MAKE IT sTRONG:
Your password is the key to your kingdom. If it is shared or compromised, you don’t own or control your kingdom. Be wary of giving your password to anyone who asks for it, whether it is in an email, on the facebook website, or anywhere else. Don’t be a victim to phishing.
Start by making sure you have a strong password — one that contains letters, numbers, special characters, and a mix of upper and lower-case. Don’t use words or something that can be easily guessed like a birth date, address, phone number, etc.
Change your password frequently
Use Your Privacy Settings:
Sharing information is the purpose of facebook, so don’t be surprised that the default settings for your account allow a lot of sharing. That may be fine for you, but you should carefully review all of the settings to make sure they fit your needs.
- Facebook’s privacy controls allow three levels of privacy — Friends, Friends of Friends, and Everyone. Think long and hard about allowing “Everyone” for any setting.
- You can decide who will see what you share – you can pick an appropriate privacy level before posting.
- You can go to privacy settings and control who will see your information — go through each area of the privacy settings: Profile Information, Contact Information, Applications and Websites, Search, and Block List.
- For applications and websites – pay close attention to what friends can share about you through applications and websites — it does no good to lock down your profile and then have your friends share the same information without your control. Think about unchecking everything.
- Next click on Account and then Application Settings. The default view is “Recently Used” which will not be all of your applications. Pick “Authorized” to see all of your apps. Then click on edit settings for each one to make sure that the appropriate privacy setting for you has been selected.
- You may also want to go to Account and then Edit Friends to make sure that only the people you want to have as friends are listed. Don’t feel bad about deleting people if you don’t want to share your information with them.
- Finally, make sure to uncheck the show friend list to everyone box under friends. See the CNet tutorial for details on how to do this.
Care in PICKING & using facebook apps:
Be concerned if a facebook app asks you for your username and password. This is not normal and a red flag. Don’t do it.
Think about what the application may share with your friends. Do you want all of your friends to know what movies you watched, what games you are playing, that you have a secret life as a mobster in a game, etc.
The same goes for fan invitations, causes, and other invitations.
Control the content of your page:
Posting comments and photos on facebook walls is pretty common. Decide whether you trust all of your friends to post on your wall. If not, you may want to reconsider the friending or uncheck the box for “Friends can post on my Wall” under Privacy Settings > Profile Information. You can decide that only you will be allowed to post to your wall and you can use customized lists to decide who can comment on your posts.
Friend lists allow you to decide which friends can see what information and what they can do. For almost every privacy setting you can set up a custom list of who can see or do things. These lists are a must, if you do not want all your friends seeing everything or commenting on everything. There are probably some things your boss, boyfriend, or casual friend doesn’t need to see.
THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU SHARE:
It is real easy to share everything in your life. Some people are only a little short of publishing a running stream of consciousness in facebook and other social apps. Ask just how much of this needs to be shared or should be shared? Should you share details of a relationship? Should you share disputes with a family member, co-worker, boss, customer, etc.?
There was a great story in the Priest’s homily in the movie Doubt. A woman who had confessed gossiping was asked to take a feather pillow up to the roof of her house, tear it open, and empty it of the feathers. On her next visit to the priest, he told her to return home and collect all of the feathers. She replied that it was impossible because they had been scattered by the winds. The lesson was that gossip was like the feathers – once out you can’t put it back. So it is with the information we publish on the Internet. Once it is out there, it can never be fully collected and put back. Think of publishing information as an irreversible act.
Disclaimer – This article was based on currently available information at the time of publication and will not reflect any changes made to facebook or its policies after the date of its publication. You should not rely solely on this article in making privacy decisions. For any website where you are concerned about privacy, you should read the website’s privacy policies, help areas, and and instructions related to privacy and fire up your favorite search engine to find additional information related to privacy and the website.