Thursday, January 01, 2009

Some Things to Keep in Mind About Facebook's New Privacy Settings

Some Things to Keep in Mind About Facebook's New Privacy Settings

As most people know by now, Facebook recently changed how its privacy settings work, adding a new group of controls and features. And as with most anything, it has received both praise and criticism, but there is no doubt that Facebook is taking privacy seriously...even if many of their users are not.

According to Tim Sparapani, director of public policy for Facebook, over 350 million Facebook users previously did nothing to adjust privacy settings. This is why Facebook stepped in. They created a tutorial that teaches users about the new privacy settings. The settings do a lot for security and privacy but also fall short in some areas. Here are some things for Facebook users to keep in mind:

  • Applications - There are tons of Facebook applications out there and many of them can pull your user information from your friends who are using them. Before, you could choose to "not sure any information...through the Facebook API." Now your public information such as your picture, name, location, and networks, is available to application developers. But if you go under the "Applications and Websites" category and change the privacy settings under "What your friends can share about you," you should be able to prevent that.

  • Friends' Lists - With the new privacy settings, you can prevent others from viewing your friends' list. The "view friends" option has been removed from search results and you can choose to hide your friend's list by un-checking "Show my friends on my profile."

  • Content - You can now control who can view any single piece of content you post.

  • Contacts - You can also limit others' ability to contact you by going to your privacy settings and clicking "contact information," and then customize your list of people who are able to contact you.

  • Searches - Under the privacy settings, you can click on "search" and set it so that your profile or any other aspect of your Facebook account does not show up in various search engines such as Google.

  • Recommended Settings - Facebook recommends the lowest possible privacy settings at first, with the transition tool, but of course, you can fix this by simply changing them to whatever level you are comfortable with.

  • Everyone - Everyone truly means everyone, everywhere can see your information so unless that's what you're going for, you may not want to choose that option on any of your privacy settings.

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