Facebook has rolled out yet another major change, this time in our privacy settings, causing a mix of delight and dismay for many folks. Back in June, I wrote about making lists from within your Facebook friends to get ready for the part I was most excited about—the ability to control WHO sees any posts or status updates.
If you’re a casual Facebook user and not too concerned about who sees your friends or what groups or pages you’re a fan of, you probably accepted the default settings presented to you when you logged in some time this week. In fact, Facebook said in one of their announcement that only 15-20% of people even change their settings – amazing.
I’ve been reading quite a few articles I’ll post links to, that suggest that Facebook isn’t really giving us that much more control over our privacy. If you check out the official Facebook Blog, you’ll see quite a bit of feedback people have given. The main objection is to the fact that now, all of our ‘friends’ are publicly available for viewing. This was not the case before.
Five Settings You Should Know On Facebook – San Francisco Chronicle
Facebook’s New Privacy Changes: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly – Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Facebook Privacy Fiasco Begins – TechCrunch
How to Fix Facebook Settings – Webware
I was going to make a list of What Users Gained vs. What Users Lost for this article, but you can read that in my links. Since Facebook quickly makes changes in response to feedback, information here could fast become obsolete.
Instead, I’ll point out where you can go to check and change your settings to increase/decrease your privacy.
- Do you want your Facebook profile to be found if you are ‘googled’ or ‘binged’? You can choose to be ‘indexed’ or not. This is found in the privacy settings – then click on ‘Search’. Here you’ll find a place to uncheck a box to clear you from being indexed by search engines. I tried this and found I was removed right away, so that’s reassuring.
- Ability for others to view your friends. In the past, Facebook had a control to allow or not allow others to view who your friends are. Now this control is gone. A workaround for this can be found – but it’s not in your Privacy settings. Instead, you’ll need to click ‘Profile’ and go to your profile page. Along the left, you’ll see the box containing your friends. Click the pencil icon to open up the choices here. You can choose which friends to show up, a grouping of 6 or more friends, or to keep it completely private, uncheck the box ‘Show my friends on my profile’. You can also choose to not show your gender or home city in your profile settings. So it seems if you remove yourself from being indexed and remove the option to have your friends to be viewable on your page, then no one would be able to see that information. That’s the way it worked for me, although I’ve read others had different results.
If you use the options above, it seems you can pretty much remain as invisible as you can be without deactivating your account. The casual user probably has little concern over these things, but folks who want their private lives separate from their work lives have reason to be concerned. We’ve all heard the stories of how potential employers search out publicly available information on social networks on job candidates and these candidates were not given offers because of the poor choices they’ve made in publishing their activities.
One other area of concern is in the ‘Third-party Apps’ that I see many of my friends using—you know the ‘What Harry Potter character are you’, and the ‘Farmville’, etc. apps that so many people use and scatter invites to get the rest of us to join. Here’s an article from TechWorld that succinctly points out that we no longer have the ability to decline access to our profiles and information that these app developers get. Who are these people? We just don’t know. I participate in very few of these – so sorry friends – but this is why I decline or ignore these kinds of requests! You can remove apps you’re not using in the ‘Applications and Website settings’ from within your privacy settings, but I think they probably have your information unless developers purge this information at set intervals.
I hope this article will prompt everyone to check out their privacy settings and adjust them to your needs. If anyone has tips or suggestions, please leave them here.