Protecting your Facebook privacy

December 10, 2009 by  

Read Facebook's new privacy settings carefully

Read Facebook’s new privacy settings carefully

Social media can be a great way to promote yourself online as well as your business but when it comes to privacy, you really need to be careful, especially with Facebook.

Case in point: the new Facebook privacy settings. (Facebook forced to improve its privacy by the Canadian privacy commissioner.)

I’m going out on a limb, but I would say that most people are using Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and family. This post applies mainly to those people.

If you’re using your personal Facebook profile for business or your profile is totally open, this may not apply.

While Facebook is improving its privacy, I was a little surprised to login and see the changes yesterday. It’s good that they’re changing but they are, in my opinion, being rather sneaky. When I logged in, every one of my settings you see in the screen shot was on “old settings” except for one: “posts I create.”

The “posts I create” checkbox was set to “everyone” but for each of those items, I had it set to “friends” except for photos which is on “friends of friends.” If I had just clicked “save settings” without even looking, I would have opened key aspects of my Facebook profile to the world. I consider status updates, photos and videos as key things I don’t want going on Google. It’s none of their business.

Phone numbers, emails and addresses are also key pieces of data that should stay within Facebook, but they didn’t even have the option of opening that up on this screen. That’s good.

facebook-privacy-settingsIf you haven’t logged in to Facebook recently, be very careful when you do. Make sure to read and understand exactly what will be visible to the world.

Where Facebook was being sneaky, underhanded, devious or whatever word you might choose, was the fact that they had tried to slip the “posts I create” by me and try to change it to “everyone.” Why didn’t they keep it on my “old settings”?

It’s the “posts I create” that are of real value to them. This is the steady flow of information they’re trying to monetize by sending it out to the rest of the Internet, notably search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. I’m not opposed to making a buck, but not off my personal information.

Do you have a personal social media strategy?

On that note, you really should think about your own personal social media strategy. Evaluate all of your social media profiles to ensure that you’re protecting your personal privacy to a level you’re comfortable with.

I think you should have a personal social media strategy whether you’re in business or not. It pays to think about the image you portray online, whether or not you intend to try to leverage your presence online for some benefit now or later.

More and more employers are checking online profiles to see what you say and post. Would you say that what you post online really gives an accurate picture of you? Are there photos and posts you would rather not have a potential employer see? How about parents and other relatives?

Or, maybe right now you don’t care what you post online and in social media. You might want to think about the future and decide if what you’re posting now might come back to bite you in the future. If that is the case, it may be wise to clean things up and consider posting in places that aren’t so subject to public scrutiny.


4 Responses to “Protecting your Facebook privacy”

  1. Jill Scheyk on December 10th, 2009 12:33 pm

    This is really interesting to me, because my Facebook profile is perhaps the only place on the web where I am in complete lockdown. I think everyone needs one place on the web that they can share with friends and family, and that’s it. I don’t need outside people poking around in my profile trying to draw conclusions about me based on communication not meant for them. It’s all about audiences! My Facebook self is separate from the rest of me.

    It’s an interesting concept – my Twitter persona is not a persona, it’s me. But at the same time my Facebook profile is me too. And yet I only share one with the world. It’s a balance. Personally, I never feel false on my “public” things – my blog, Twitter – but I’m also not in a hurry to show the general public silly pictures of me. It’s an image thing everyone needs to consider.

  2. Alain Saffel - Edmonton SEO guy on December 10th, 2009 12:53 pm

    Good points Jill. I tend to keep my Facebook fairly locked down too, which is why I wasn’t happy with the way Facebook tried to change my settings on me. Facebook, for me, is mostly for family & friends.

    I think that any potential employers should also be careful trying to draw conclusions about people based on social media profiles. How do you know if someone is being sarcastic, joking or serious? Sometimes it’s hard to tell, even if you know the person you’re talking to.

    The assumption potential employers may also operate on is that a picture of a person from 10 years back at a college party represents what that person is like today. We all know that people change, but it seems some employers may not think so. (They just may not be worth working for if that’s their attitude. I’m sure they have other issues too.)

  3. she on December 10th, 2009 2:20 pm

    Oddly enough, when I logged into FB this am, perhaps a few hours before you sent your Tweet re: FB’s Privacy screen, ALL of my options were set to “Old Settings” including the “posts I create” option. My pre-existing settings were either “friends” or “only me” so perhaps all my customization of access made an impact?

  4. Alain Saffel - Edmonton SEO guy on December 10th, 2009 2:37 pm

    Not sure. I had extensively customized my privacy as well, but that one was checked. When my wife logged in (I got the screenshots from her login because I forgot to get them) her settings on “posts I create” were also set to everyone.

    I certainly think they could be much more clear.

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