How much do you really want to share with the world?

How much do you really want to share with the world?

The Privacy issue on Facebook is getting mentioned here and there (probably much more in the US and in English than in Israel and in Hebrew or other countries and languages) and in my opinion, too many Facebook users choose not to think about it, and that is a shame…

Here are some things to consider:

  • For many, Facebook is dedicated to communication with friends (some friends closer than others), a bit part of the communication revolves around experiences – parties, hanging out, having fun maybe?
    • Have you been photographed lately? Have you been tagged?
    • Maybe you have a friend who thins a picture of you dunk or having some other awkward moment will provide a nice topic to post and discuss on Facebook?
  • Has anyone used your profile for advertising something by tagging you on some shady advertisement photo?
  • Maybe you have some hobby which is… not exactly politically correct and you’ve indicated “like” to a group that deals with that sort of thing?
  • Did you know some of the applications you’ve approved on Facebook have access to your personal information, this information is exposed to the developers and worst, you have allowed the application to share this info with others and even publish it.
    • In some cased, the application doesn’t have to be used directly by you: it’s enough that a friend is using it and allowed it to access your personal information which is exposed to him!
  • Facebook recently advertised a new service that is supposed to automatically tag people in photo’s based on advanced facial recognition, how many photos (awkward to one degree or another) may be out there on the internet which you are not even aware of that can automatically be tagged like this?

You would do well to remember that:

  • Search engines such as Google systematically scan Facebook – every photo, status, video, like etc. may find their way to search results and these days ANYONE can search…
  • More and more employers are searching Facebook these days – what can they find out about you?
    • Awkward moments?
    • Tags in photos or status notification that may not correspond with the message you want to communication?
    • Bizarre habits or hobbies you enjoy?
So what do we do?
Not share?!? Cancel the account?!? – That is really not what I am offering, there are a number of things you can do:
  1. Develop awareness – it’s important to understand and thing a little on the consequences of what it is you do – the information you publish and the approvals you give friends and applications to publish.
  2. You may want to check your settings and update them (some tips will follow)
    1. You can check manually the profile and approval settings pages of your account
    2. You can also use a dedicated application that will scan your settings and provide diagnosis of current state and maybe some recommendations (simply follow the instructions):

Here are some guide lines and tips that may help:

  • Basic Directory Information
    • Who can “See my friend list”? – who needs too? (it seems to me only your friends and maybe their friends as well, but beyond that, why should they be interested?)
    • “See my interests and other pages” – now to me this is an important decision that depends very much on why you use Facebook:
      • If you use it for social purposes only, you can limit the exposure to a close circle of friends in one level or another and block it from networks and others (this way embarrassing or inappropriate content is limited in its exposure).
      • If you have some work related or networking uses for Facebook, you may want to share with as many people as possible, but than on the other hand, you need to remember to avoid exposing potentially embarrassing things or things that can be seen as negative.
  • Application Settings
    • Avoid approving every silly application and if you have – clean up from time to time and get rid of those who are not in use.
    • For the applications you choose to keep, I recommend doing into their specific settings and make sure they are allowed to do only what they need in order to ensure proper function.
  • Account settings
    • Networks – to which networks are you connected? (some of the privacy settings allow you to limit access to “friends and networks”) are those networks still relevant? Do you really want to expose those things with all the other members of these Networks?
      • Please note – if you leave a network, if may not be easy to get back to it later, sometimes membership in networks is an asset since it gives you important access to information and connections, it would be wise to think carefully on this one (you can simply share less with the network…)
  • Privacy settings, you should use the “Customize Settings” option rather than settle for one of the combos offered by Facebook:
    • With want circle of friends do you feel comfortable sharing each of the contents listed there?
    • “Photos and videos I’m tagged in” – maybe you can settle for close friends only? That ones that will forgive you for embarrassing staff or turn your attention to something before it becomes public knowledge?
    • “Can see wall posts by my friends” – how far do you want something that was written by a Facebook friend on your wall to go? (how many of your Facebook friends are really friends?)
    • Who do you want to share your contact information with? Address, phone numbers, email addresses?
That’s it basically… you don’t have to panic and block every feature but on the other hand, remember that ignorance can cost you dearly and hurt in places you least expect.

Safe sharing!

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