- You have always been able to limit what information from your profile was public and private. But now, Facebook lets you control access to every status update, link, photo, video, etc.
- When controlling access, you can grant access to different people or groups: Everyone (as in the world), All Friends, Friends of Friends, and specific friends or lists of friends, or deny access/hide from specific friends of lists of friends.
- Facebook eliminated regional networks, which allowed users to unwittingly share their profiles to entire cities, states, countries, etc.
Advocates for the new privacy changes praised the simplified settings and the increased control over every single post. Critics, however, are livid over the fact that the default option was to make nearly everything on a person’s profile available to Everyone (that is, until users edited their settings and posts) and the fact that some information is strictly public and can’t be edited. For example, you can no longer limit who can see your list of friends and your public profile always shows the Facebook pages that you are a fan of. I know I was ticked off that even though I edited my privacy settings so that my photo albums are globally only available to Friends, Facebook made my existing photo albums publicly available until I edited each one manually.
If the new privacy settings and changes confuse you, here are my recommendations:
- Review your Privacy Settings by clicking on Settings, then Privacy Settings in the top right menu. Ignore Facebook’s Guide to Privacy and privacy recommendations and set-up your settings they way you like. Facebook, for example, recommends that “Everyone be able to see information that will make it easier for friends to find, identify and learn about you. This includes basic information like your About Me description, Family and Relationships, Work and Education Info, and Website, as well as posts that you create, like photo albums and status updates.” For me, this is way too much information for the public to see.
- Create lists within your Friends list. To do this, click on Friends in the top menu, then click on Friends under Lists in the left menu. At the top of the page, you’ll see an option for Create New List. You’ll be able to name your new list then select the friends who should be on that list. For example, I have created lists for Family, Matrix Group staff, Close Friends, Business Associates, etc. Create lists that make sense to you and think in terms of this question: “When posting updates, links, photos and videos, how would you like to group your FB friends so that you can easily share information with the right people?” For example, I might share a photo album of my son just with Family and Close Friends but not Business Associates.
- Be mindful of the lock icon when posting anything on Facebook. Click on the little padlock anytime you post anything and keep in mind that Facebook defaults aren’t always going to match your privacy settings. For example, I have set-up my status updates and photo albums to only be available to Friends. When I post an update or link, the default is set properly to Only Friends, but when I create a photo album, the default is still Everyone. Grrrr…..
- Check your public profile on a regular basis and don’t rely on the Facebook preview. I can preview my public profile (or the profile that anyone can access even if they are not logged into Facebook or what the search engines can crawl) from different sections of Facebook and they don’t always match; this could be a legacy of the old settings and Facebook will synchronize them up sometime soon. But I also know that when you’re logged into Facebook, you get a different view of Facebook. So I log out of Facebook and access my profile: http://www.facebook.com/jmpineda on a regular basis and monitor what’s available to the world. I also ask friends who are not my FB friends to check out my profile and verify what is available.
If you want to learn more about the new Facebook privacy changes, here are some good articles:
- Facebook’s Guide to Privacy
- PC World announces the Facebook privacy changes
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation on the good, the bad and the ugly of the new changes; this one is absolutely worth a read
- PC World on how to protect your privacy on Facebook
- MSNBC on why you should check your privacy settings now; it appears that Mark Zuckerberg himself left some photo albums available to Everyone for a period of time, giving the world a peek into his private life; oops!
How about you? What do you think of the new privacy changes? Have you reviewed and tweaked your privacy settings? What do you like about the new changes? What’s making you crazy?