This week Facebook started rolling out changes to the way in which it manages privacy for over 350 million users. This is no small task, and Facebook has done well to keep everything simple and straightforward. When you log in, you are invited to alter your settings. All you have to do is click ‘next’, review your settings and then click ‘finish’. Nice and easy.
The only problem is with the options. I can either have my OLD settings or give access to EVERYONE: I can’t make my settings more private than they already are. Most of my OLD settings were set to EVERYONE, meaning my options were to give access to certain information to EVERYONE – or EVERYONE!
So I decided to make my profile a little more private. This is how I did it.
The best way to keep your personal data safe would be to close your Facebook account, although that would be a bit drastic. Instead, you should access the privacy settings under Settings >> Privacy Settings, where you will see the menu below.
Let’s start with the Profile information section. After clicking this option, you will need to click ‘change settings’ and enter your password. Once you have done this, all the boxes will become active.
If you change all the settings to ‘Only Friends’, this will ensure your information is not publicly available – only your Facebook friends can see your information. Of course, it’s crucial that you are careful about the friends you make – there are thousands of Facebook accounts set up with the purpose of stealing personal information, and some of your friends may not be so selective. So don’t give access to ‘Friends of Friends’ and certainly don’t give it to ‘Everyone’. It is also important that you set all your albums to ‘Only Friends’.
After all, do you want total strangers looking at your holiday snaps or family photos? Probably not.
Who do you want to be able to contact you? Make sure that you have all these settings set to ‘Only Friends’, but allow other people to send you messages via Facebook and make friend requests. Unless you want to be a complete hermit. In which case, you might want to ask yourself what you’re doing on Facebook in the first place.
Applications and Websites
This is the most shocking of all the privacy sections. You need to remember that anyone can write a Facebook application, and it doesn’t take much imagination to work out that anyone can write a sinister data collection tool and hide it inside a nice, friendly game. Companies might even collect your data and store it for totally innocent purposes. But they would still be holding your data, and if anyone hacks into their servers or steals their equipment, your data will be compromised.
My advice here is simple. DO NOT INSTALL FACEBOOK APPLICATIONS. This way your information will not be stolen.
There’s another risk, though – check out this tab:
What your friends can share about you through applications and websites
If your friend installs Facebook applications, they can also harvest all your personal details. This brings me back to my point about being very careful who you befriend on Facebook. Your friend ‘Dave1234’ might be installing every application available and not realise (or care) about privacy.
Make sure that you uncheck every box:
Do you want your profile to appear in search engine results? Do you want to be found by any person on the internet?
Imagine you are looking for a new job and your potential new boss does a quick Google search for ‘Oliver Bloggs’. He finds your Facebook profile and checks out your drunken holiday pictures and reads the banter going on on your wall and in your status updates.
This is a serious issue. Privacy affects everyone. Make sure that you change these settings and stop yourself being found in the search engines.
When you are creating an event – such as a charity fundraiser or club meeting – remember these can also be viewed and harvested. It makes sense not to disclose personal information here either.
Conclusion and final advice
Facebook does not look after your data by default. You have to actively make the relevant changes to your settings. Update them. Weed out your friends list – you don’t really have 238,024 of them in real life. And always remember that your account could be compromised or taken over by a hacker.
Three last tips:
- Do not put your telephone number/ address on Facebook. Unless you would like strange phone calls and random internet people turning up at your door.
- Do not make friends with random strangers.
- Do not install Applications that want access to your personal data. Can you ever be sure it’s safe?
The author of this post prefers to blog anonymously – to protect their personal data.