Back in September we reported that Facebook had, at the behest of the Canadian government, implemented a host of new privacy options. However implementing these features meant changing users privacy settings, and while Facebook took lengths to make sure that users were prompted with a message about the new privacy settings and given immediate options for securing their profile, the pop up left many people with a false feeling that they had secured their Facebook profile from prying eyes.
In fact, the update left many things open and accessible to the public, things that you need to secure.
1. Reset your Album Permissions
One of the first things that happened after the Facebook switch over was that everyone’s albums became public, including profile pictures.
To correct this, click profile and then at the bottom of the page click “Album Privacy”. Now you have to set each album manually to be viewable by everyone, groups of friends, friends of friends, or custom settings that will allow you to do such things as make photos only available to specific people.
If you have photos from parties, photos of yourself drunk, or any other embarrassing pictures you will want to set those to private, friends, or custom.
2. Set what your friends can share about you
One of the more insidious Facebook privacy loopholes was that if a friend had an application installed, that application could mine information from your profile without you knowing—even if you had locked that information away. This persists, but you can limit it by changing your settings under privacy settings>Application and Websites>What your friends can share about you. You can’t keep them from sharing publicly available information, but you can limit a lot.
By default a strange selection is on. It doesn’t share innocuous information like religious and political views, but it shares your pictures, personal info, notes, status updates.
3. Segment your friend list
One of Facebook’s great new features is the ability to segment your friend list. Do this. Do this now. Facebook’s default options are a somewhat poor way to sort ones profile.
Simply view all friends and select “create new list” from above your friends list.
These lists allow you to custom tailor who gets to see what on your Facebook page. Under almost any privacy setting option select custom. You can then enter your list in either the “make visible to these people” or “hide from these people” fields, showing it only to them or hiding it from them. You can also do this when releasing a status update, letting only certain people see what you write.
This lets you get around using the default user group settings, which can be deceptive in who they share with. For instance, beware of setting anything to “friends of friends”, as people often add their boss, their mother and father, etc. to their friend list, meaning that if you’ve used this setting, have a coworker in your friends list, and your coworker has your boss in his list, suddenly that’s available to him/her, whether you wanted it to be or not.
Addendum: Beware of anti-social networking.
Privacy option are great, and often there are things that you only want certain people to see. However, resist the urge to hide everything.
With all this fear of breaches of privacy we often forget that the point of these websites is to share information. They call it social networking for a reason: the point of Facebook is to provide information so that other like minded people, or people you once knew, can find you. As such you should set a lot of information to be available to everyone. Let your About Me be public, let your Personal Info (interests, activities and favourites) be public, let your religious and political views be public, and if you take a lot of work safe photos, set them to public too.