Archive for June, 2010

4
Jun

New Facebook Privacy Settings

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon    in Social Media Marketing

After receiving a multitude of complaints regarding Facebook’s lack of privacy, they have instituted new privacy settings. Those settings are now available. But before accepting them as they are, you should review each one to make sure they fit you and the way you use Facebook.

Facebook Privacy Setting

Facebook Privacy Setting

So the first step is to go to privacy settings under your account tab in your Facebook account. The first thing to review is the basic directory information. To begin, click on view setting. The things you’ll find here are the basic information that you want to make public.  For example, whether you want to allow people to search for you on Facebook, send you friend requests and messages, or see your friend list. By default, these are set for everyone to see and probably you won’t need to change these. If someone that you want to connect with searches for you on Facebook, this will allow them to find you and request you become friends. The next sections under the basic directory information are your work and education, your current city and hometown, and your interests and other pages. Once again, this is your choice, with your interests and other pages being the most questionable.

With the integration of Facebook and the search engines, your interests and the pages that you like can be used to design targeted advertising for you. While this isn’t new, it will become more prominent in years to come. Other websites you visit and searches you perform, may accumulate information about you and your patterns and habits so that marketers can laser target your interests. For example, let’s say you went on a website like BestBuy.com to shop for a 52 inch HD TV. A few days later, while reading an article on CNN.com, an ad appears for a 52 inch HD TV on sale in your area. Or maybe a text message gets sent to your phone with that sale. Instead of shopping for products or services, products and services will find you in the future.

Okay, so we covered the basic directory information. The next section on your privacy settings is “Sharing on Facebook.” You have the choice of allowing everyone, friends only, friends of friends, or customizing, who can see your information. There is also a recommended setting. What the recommended setting does is allow everyone to see your status, photos and posts, your bio, and your friends and relationships. It allows friends of friends to see your birthday, religious and political views, and photos and videos your tag in. And it allows friends only to post to your wall, to see your e-mail address, your phone number, and any other address or IM name.

In my case, the settings are not ones that fit my needs. Since my Facebook profile contains my business information, I want my contact information available to everyone. So I chose the custom option which allows me to pick and choose who sees my information. At the bottom of the list, you will see a pencil with the words “Customize Settings” beside it.  That will bring up the menu list of the things you share, as well as what others can share plus your contact information. For me, I want my website, my phone number and my e-mail address visible to everyone.

If you have younger children, you should probably choose to make family only visible to friends. If you are a parent of teenage kids, you probably want to monitor their Facebook page, but not have others see who your kids are.

Another setting on this same page is your album privacy. Click the “edit album privacy” link to open all your photo albums. Once again, if you have small children, you probably don’t want pictures of the family vacation visible for everyone to see. But you don’t care if your friends see them. After all, that’s why you shared them. So change this setting for each album as you need.

The next section is applications, games and websites. Applications such as Farmville, Mafia wars, and the various quizzes, polls and other activities, all are created by third-party developers. They are not associated with Facebook. But, you agree, when you set up the application, to their terms and conditions, which means they have access to all of your profile information. But what is even more intrusive is the fact that these applications have access to your friend’s profiles as well. So even though I don’t take any of the polls, play Farmville, or send hugs or hearts, my profile information is available from my friends sites that do.

With the new privacy settings, you have the option to control what information is available to applications and websites when your friends use them. I chose to make none of my information available to third-party applications. You also have the ability to easily remove applications and websites. I recommend removing any application that you no longer use.

Under the same applications section, you have the option for instant personalization. On Facebook partner sites like Pandora and Yelp (with more being added all the time), your profile information can be pulled in to help design your browsing experience on that site. For example, you login to Pandora, and when it retrieves your Facebook likes and sees you are a fan of 60s rock, it can customize the music it serves up to you. By disabling the instant personalization you eliminate that.

Public search is another choice under applications and websites. This determines whether your Facebook profile is available for search engines like Google to read. Once again, in my case, I don’t have a problem with my profile being searchable. My company information is already all over the web. Also, from the search engine optimization standpoint, my profile provides another inbound link to my website, which improves search engine positioning. However, you may choose to be less visible online, and if so, disable the public search feature.

Do you have a friend that continually sends you invites for applications? While you don’t want to block the user, you now have the choice to block an invites that come from that friend. To do so, choose the  Block Lists section at the very bottom. Here you have the option to block users by name or e-mail or to block invites from a friend.

One privacy issue that was already available is the publication of your birth date.  While it’s okay to show your birthday (everyone likes to get the birthday wishes), you should display only the month and date, not the year.  You can change this in your profile page and click on edit profile (right under your picture.)  Next to your birthday, there is a dropdown box that gives you the choice of showing your full birthday, the month & day only or not showing it at all.

All in all, the new Facebook privacy settings should provide much greater control over your online privacy. But remember, this is only one site. There are hundreds of sites that capture your information, either through cookies, through giveaways or when you register to use the site. So unless you plan to be a web recluse, your information is probably are the out there in dozens of databases all over the web.

I hope this gave you a little insight into how you customize your Facebook privacy and the reasoning behind the vigilance needed to protect yourself online.

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