With much fanfare, Facebook recently announced a new series of controls and features aimed at improving privacy. The move garnered its share of criticism as users dealt with what Facebook had - and hadn't - done. Here are seven things to keep in mind about your privacy on Facebook as you navigate the social networking site.
When Facebook updated its
privacy settings a few days ago, the changes drew a mix
of acclaim and criticism.
One thing, however, was
made clear-securing social networks means taking a serious approach
. According to Facebook, that starts with an understanding of
what privacy settings exist and taking stock of what information users want to
Interestingly, many of the
site's 350 million-plus users previously did nothing on the privacy front,
leaving much of their information exposed. Tim Sparapani, director of public
policy at Facebook, told eWEEK as much this week, stating that "hundreds of
millions of people had never stopped and thought about the consequences of
To do that, Facebook
created a transition tool, a tutorial of sorts to educate users about the
new privacy controls the site has implemented. For those worried about
security, the new controls can heighten privacy in a variety of ways, but there
are also areas where they arguably fall short. Here are some things for
Facebook users to think about:
1. Facebook Applications & You:
Applications on Facebook can pull
certain user information from friends of the people using the application.
Previously, users could choose to "not share any information about me
through the Facebook
Now, information deemed
public-namely your profile picture, name, city and networks-is available to
developers of any apps you or your friends use. However, you can change the
settings to prevent other information from being shared by going into the "What
your friends can share about you" section of the "Applications and
Websites" category in "Privacy Settings."
2. Limiting Access to Friends' List:
Facebook has changed things to
allow users to hide their list of friends. The "View Friends" link
has been removed from search results, and users can choose to hide their
friends' list on their profile page by unchecking "Show my friends on my
3. Controlling Access to Content:
You can choose who can view any
piece of content that you post on your profile. The first time you post with
this new control, you'll get a message on how to use it.
4. Controlling Who Contacts You:
You can limit the ability of
others to contact you by changing the "Privacy Settings" on your
profile. Click "Contact Information" and scroll down the list and
make whatever changes you like.
5. Conceal Your Profile from Web Searches:
To make sure any personal pictures
or messages posted on your profile do not pop up on Google or other search
engines, click on the "search" option under "Privacy Settings"
and make the change.
6. Recommended Settings:
One of the issues that got the strongest negative
reaction from users was that Facebook's transition tool's recommended settings
reduced privacy levels to the lowest possible levels. This is fixable, however,
just by clicking to change the settings back to their original levels.
7. Everyone, Everywhere:
The "Everyone" setting means
exactly that-everyone. This is the lowest possible setting from a privacy
perspective, giving anyone the ability to view your information.