Tech Time: Facebook Goes Public

Facebook is continues to grow in popularity, even with the rise of chief rival Twitter in the social networking landscape. But recently, Facebook completely revamped its privacy settings supposedly for the benefit of the user, but take a closer look. If you are not careful, you may be sharing your private content with the world.

For the better part of six months, FB announced it would be upgrading its privacy policies and recently you would have noticed the announcement upon logging into the social networking site. I ignored the announcement. I had already set everything in my FB settings to “friends only”, I had limited my friends list to only actual flesh and blood friends, I had restricted all third party apps ... in short, I thought my FB account was iron clad.

I was wrong!

Though FB brought in new, enhanced privacy options that allow users to tweak their settings to a fairly fine degree, they configured settings for all 350 million users to the ‘recommended’ settings as default, rather than keep the old settings. This made your wall posts and wall pictures visible to the world. Though perhaps not a breach in their actual policy, this potential breach in the spirit of the privacy policy drew the attention of the US FTC which is currently investigating.

It is likely FB undertook such an action to compete with the every growing Twitter, which is by default, open. But Twitter simply does not host the same level of personal information which can leave you venerable.

So, what to do?

If you like me ignored the announcement, find 10 – 20 minutes in your day to go and tweak the settings. If you are super private like me:
1. Go in and change all your profile settings from “recommended” to “old settings”.
2. Go through all the settings individually (there are at least 30) and adjust to “only friends”
3. “Un-friend” anyone who you don’t really know
4. Be aware that when you sign up for third party apps like Farmville and Mafia Wars, you open up your friend list and personal information up to that developer

Facebook is fun, but like all things in life, enjoy in moderation.

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