Let’s start off with what the purpose of Facebook is:
“Facebook is not just a website. It is also a service for sharing your information on Facebook-enhanced applications and websites.”
Facebook wants you to share. Facebook encourages you to share. If you do not want to share, why are you on Facebook?
Having said that… Facebook has done a lot to give you control over the information you can share, but it has also opened some doors or “privacy holes”.
First step – MAKE LISTS!!! (Friends -> All Friends -> Create New List) Lists are the most powerful, yet underutilized tool on Facebook! If you want to control who sees what information, making Friends lists is more critical now then it ever has been before. A list will allow you to create wall posts, post up pictures, etc… and select who gets to see them. The first list you want to pay attention to is “Limited Profile”. That’s where you put the people you don’t know or have not assessed their “value” to your network yet. I have a lot of people in my Limited Profile list. They can not post to my wall, they can not see my personal photos and they are very limited as to what contact information they can see on my Info tab.
Next – go to your privacy settings: Settings -> Privacy Settings -> Profile Information
This is where you can set all your default settings. List who can see what information here. I customize most of my settings by using the lists I created. The same applies to your Contact information (Settings ->Privacy Settings -> Contact)
You can also control who can search for you and whether or not you want to be included in the search engines. Settings -> Privacy Settings -> Index. The default setting is to allow all publicly available information from your profile to be indexed by search engines. You can unclick the box to stop that from happening. NOTE: Anything that has already been indexed will not be removed from the search engines. (see my Facebook note about this that was shared from the Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowship page)
Applications and Website control in your profile: Settings -> Privacy Settings -> Applications and Websites:
This is where things get interesting. The reality is, it is in Facebook’s best interest to allow developers to access your profile information. Data mining is a science. By seeing what applications you participate in, thus, pulling information from your profile, Facebook can insert you in a demographic list. Like quizzes? If privacy is a concern for you, don’t take them.
Here is what Facebook has to say about applications:
“When your friend visits a Facebook-enhanced application or website, they may want to share certain information to make the experience more social. For example, a greeting card application may use your birthday information to prompt your friend to send a card.
If your friend uses an application that you do not use, you can control what types of information the application can access. Please note that applications will always be able to access your publicly available information (Name, Profile Picture, Gender, Current City, Networks, Friend List, and Pages) and information that is visible to Everyone.”
Really? So when my friend takes a quiz, installs an application (that I am NOT using), the application can still pull data about me from it. Use the Application controls to determine what data can or can not be pulled.
If you are posting something on your wall that you do not want the world to see – use the status update bar to control it:
The default setting is Everyone… but you can change it. Again – consider why you are posting something if it has to be kept private. I have set custom settings to most of my photo albums, with the exception of my portfolio.
Facebook is the 4th largest country, with 350 million citizens. There will be abusers in there, there will be good guys, bad guys and those with less then stellar intentions.
The bottom line is this: You can unintentionally share information about yourself if you are not careful. If you are not on Facebook to interact and share, then you have picked the wrong social network. I have shown my kids how to lock down their profile and their posts, and it is not 100% – but it’s close.
Review your settings. Set your defaults so you don’t have to think about them too often.
KNOW YOUR PURPOSE!!!
I know that I am on Facebook to connect, share and market first. While I do socialize, it’s not my primary purpose. Knowing that makes it very easy for me to determine what I do and do not share and with whom.
I’ll give you an example: I was involved in a discussion about tattoos, as I am designing a new one for myself. I was asked to post my existing tattoo – I almost did, but held off. Why? It serves no real purpose to my end goal, and, as cool as my tat is, I don’t want that on my profile. That’s a tad too personal to me. I don’t discuss the details of my private life with the exception that people know I am a parent, I ride a snowmobile and a Harley and have interests other then work. I think that is to my benefit, as it makes me a more well rounded person and gives people some what of an idea as to who I am. I want people to know me, trust me and to eventually do business with me, or think of me when others need help in this space. I am good at engaging people and getting them to think – I enjoy that. But, it doesn’t mean I need to post a picture of my lower back for all to see 🙂
By going through my profile and my posts, you should have a pretty good idea as to who I am and what I am about. Hopefully enough of one to want to engage me on a closer level via phone or email, and perhaps eventually in person. That’s the point of a social network, and that is something that Facebook does very well. Take a peek at my Facebook profile. I look forward to meeting you!
What are your thoughts about Facebook’s privacy settings?