What you need to know about Facebook Privacy settings

Facebook’s new privacy settings have started to make headline news all over the world. If you are wondering if you should remove yourself from facebook all together in order to keep your privacy this article should shed some light on the topic.

The reason for the new settings:

As Facebook competes with Twitter the biggest hurdle is to get Facebook more public. To let its content be searchable within search engines. This would make Facebook content more valuable and relevant. This content can then be used for research on a variety of topics.

Google have recently announced ‘Google Real-time Search‘ which is a good attempt at providing the latest information to Google users as soon as it is released on the web.

“Our real-time search enables you to discover breaking news the moment it’s happening, even if it’s not the popular news of the day, and even if you didn’t know about it beforehand.” – Google Blog

Google real-time search will do this by searching through twitter tweets, news, blogs and other social networks to create a ‘live’ search result. The new privacy settings in Facebook will put facebook in a position to be included in Google live search and increase their visability in more general search results.

What-you-need-to-know-about-Facebook-Privacy-settingsMarketing implications

Personally, I’m excited about the new privacy setting because in essence Facebook has given me a loudspeaker for Christmas. These new settings allow marketers and businesses a better platform to promote concepts, products and service to the general public – outside of facebook. I am not going to go into detail about the marketing opportunities that now exist, I will keep that for future articles. For now I want to simply help you get your Facebook life organised so that you only share the information you want to share.

Facebook for the everyday person

Let’s face it! Most people love the way that Facebook has bought people closer and helps us keep up to date with our friends and family. So the thought of living without it might bring a cold sweat to a few people.  In general, people on Facebook like their information to be kept fairly private. They don’t mind their friends seeing whats going on but would prefer the whole world was unaware.

News 24 released a great article today that shows you how to lockdown your privacy settings for facebook:

“1. Some of your information is viewable by everyone

Everyone can see your name, your profile photo and the names of work and school networks you’re part of. Ditto for pages you are a fan of.

If you are worried about a potential employer finding out about a quirky fetish or unorthodox political leaning, avoid becoming a Facebook fan of such groups. You can’t tell Facebook you don’t want those publicly listed.

Your gender and current city are also available, if you choose to specify them. You can uncheck “Show my sex in my profile” when you edit your profile if you don’t want it listed, and you can leave “Current City” blank.

2. Your list of friends may also be public

Facebook also considers your friends list publicly available information. Privacy advocates worry that much can be gleaned from a person’s list of friends – even sexual orientation, according to one MIT study.

But there is a way to hide the list. Go to your profile page and click on the little blue pencil icon on the top right of your box of friends. Uncheck “Show Friend List to everyone”. Either way, those you are already friends with can always see your full list.

3. You can hide yourself from web searches

There is a section for “Search” under Facebook’s privacy settings page, which is accessible from the top right corner of the website under “Settings”.

If you click the “Allow” box next to “Public Search Results”, the information that Facebook deems publicly available (such as photo, fan pages and list of friends), along with anything else you have made available to everyone, will show up when someone looks up your name on a search engine such as Google. The stuff you’ve limited access to in your profile will not show up.

This is useful if you want people you’ve lost touch with, or potential work contacts, to be able to find your Facebook page. If you’d rather not be found, uncheck this box.

A second setting, controlling searches within Facebook, lets you refine who can find you once that person has logged on. Limit searches to friends only if you think you have all the friends you need and don’t want anyone to find you when they type in your name to Facebook.

4. Beware of third-party applications

Quizzes and games are fun, but each time you take one, you first authorise it to access your profile information, even if you have made that available only to your friends. You’re also letting the app access some information on your friends.

Under “Application Settings,” Facebook lists all the apps you have opened your profile up to. If you no longer want to authorise access to “Which Golden Girl Are You?” you can always remove it by clicking on the “X” next to its name.

Apps you use regularly, such as Facebook for Android if you update your status from your cellphone, should stay.

Next, by clicking on “Applications and Websites” on the privacy settings page, you can edit whether your friends can share your birthday, photos and other specific information. Remember that applications can access your “publicly available information” no matter what.

The security firm Sophos recommends users set their privacy settings for two of Facebook’s own popular applications, notes and photos, to friends only.

5. Go over your list of friends

The average Facebook user has 130 friends. But many people interact with a much smaller group when commenting on status updates, photos and links. So it doesn’t hurt to occasionally review your list of your friends to get an idea of just who can view your status posts, vacation photos and funny links you’ve shared over the years.

Don’t feel obligated to add anyone as a friend, even if that person adds you first. For professional acquaintance you don’t want to snub, send them to a LinkedIn profile you can set up. Some workplaces and schools have rules about Facebook interactions between bosses and employees or students and teachers.

6. Create custom friends groups

If you have friended a lot of people, sort them. Think of the groups you interact with in real life – co-workers, college buddies, girlfriends, grandma and grandpa – and organise your Facebook friends in these groups, too.

Go to “All Friends” under the “Friends” button up top, click on “Create New List” and fire away. Then decide what aspects of your profile, and which status posts and photos, these people will have access to. Or, simply create a “limited” list for acquaintances or distant relatives and limit their access.

7. Customise your status posts

Type “I’m hungry” into your status update box. Click on the little lock icon. You’ll see a range of privacy controls pop up, letting you either allow or limit access to the post. If you want, you can even hide it from everyone by clicking “Only Me” under the custom settings. Click on “Save Setting”. Repeat with each post, or create a default setting for most updates and increase or decrease privacy as you see fit.

8. Let your friends know you have boundaries – in person

Many of us have woken up on a Sunday morning to find that an overzealous friend has posted dozens of photos from that wild party we barely remembered – the good, the bad and the hideous.

Chances are, they didn’t do this to embarrass you, though if they did you have bigger problems. Rather, they probably don’t know that you don’t want these photos posted.

Sure, tweak your photo privacy settings on Facebook. But if someone starts snapping pictures of you at a party, ask them to check with you before posting it anywhere.

9. Never assume complete privacy

Even for the most tech-savvy person, unflattering photos, incriminating text messages or angry status posts about work have a way of worming their way out in the open.” – News 24

So the good news?

The good news is that Facebook does allow us to control our public/privacy settings so there is no need to delete any beloved profiles. The important thing is to make sure that everyone know how to manage their settings to avoid any upsetting situations withing Google and the rest of the internet. So send this article to everyone you know and help educate the uneducated.

If you use facebook for business and personal interests I would suggest you read “Tips on creating an online portfolio.

Begging the question of our behaviour?

All this begs the question about our behaviour on Facebook and our social media management in general. Can we post anything on Facebook or should we start tailoring what we post on facebook. Friends lists are a great way of making surte that your work collegues or business contacts dont get updated on last nights big party. What are your thoughts on this? (Feel free to comment!!)

Article References:

News24: Get some privacy on Facebook

All Facebook: Facebooks push to make you more transparent

Facebook Privacy Settings

Google real-time search

Interested in knowing more about Facebook?

Consider booking a social media workshop

2 thoughts on “What you need to know about Facebook Privacy settings

  1. Barbara De Kock Griffiths

    Very interesting article. You have certainly opened up the channels of social media for me – it is a great deal to take in, but as they say “practice makes perfect” – thanks, I will now make it my mission to understand and log onto my social medias as much as possible.

  2. Pingback: Google has bigger privacy issues than Facebook | Mike Saunders

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