Somebody please call security!
Facebook, that oh so wonderful pioneer of the social network era. Almost everybody has a Facebook account, I say almost because increasingly I meet more and more anti-Facebook people who would never set up an account on there. Maybe they should start a new group…a whole new website to put people who don’t want to be on Facebook in touch with other people who don’t want to be on Facebook…yeah…..ok, so I jest.
In December, Facebook offered up their brand new security options to the world, and thereby ensured that total chaos could reign while everyone tried to figure out what was going on and how in the hell they could shut themselves down again. I was one of these people, I’ve previously blogged on how closely I monitor my Facebook account and actively use privacy settings so the first thing I looked for the option to remove myself from search results and prevent my photo from being seen. And that’s when it dawned on me that I may have to leave facebook.
In the last month, I have received silly friends requests from random unknowns and I have been able to pry into the facebook lives of people who I don’t know on more occassions that I care to mention. It’s easily done, I’m no stalker, but follow a link where a friend has been tagged, or a video or similar and you could end up on the page of A.N.Other who doesn’t realise that their wall, personal information and photos are open to the world. This wasn’t previously the case, but many of the new settings have been put to a default ‘Everyone’ so unless you go in and change them, anyone who wants to, can peep into your little social corner of the world.
With so many people accessing Facebook exclusively on their mobile phones, many have not gotten round to looking at, yet alone updating and changing their privacy options. Seriously, if you’re one of these people do it now!
For the moment, I’m staying on there, professionally and socially my networks currently utilise Facebook to a large extent, but I’m working on changing that. Whilst I’m on there I have removed all my photo albums, I no longer have a wall (my friends have to send me a message) and I only have one external application accessing my data (and its a book application…quite good actually!). I’m still using my friends lists as filters to control how much people see, I’ve stopped being a serial commenter on other people’s walls and photos and no one except me can see photos I’m tagged in. Sound extreme? Well, this is reality.
Some people argue that if you have nothing to hide then you shouldn’t be paranoid, others say if you don’t want people to know anything, why exist on these platforms anyway (an argument I can never fight because it is oh so true!). But if you are on there, and you do use it, then it’s always sensible to err on the side of caution, control what you want to share and don’t let it be controlled for you. The same applies to Twitter, FriendFeed, BlogReaders, Foursquare, you name it. You should be in control, not the people who designed these applications, their intentions may not (and will almost certainly never be) in your best interest.
My list of 5 things you should do straight away:
- Prevent yourself from appearing in Google public search listings (unless you have a business reason e.g. music, acting etc. I would actually recommend you set up two accounts, one public and one private for your real friendships)
- Work through your friends lists and categorise, then give different categories different permissions (we all ‘forget’ when we added Aunty Tolu months back and didn’t realise she’s been informing your mother about your nights out and racy status messages….um-hmm)
- Remove your date of birth (do you really need the million Happy Birthday wishes???)
- Consider preventing people from seeing when you are tagged in a photo
- Don’t add new friend requests from so called friend’s of friends (stick to who you actually know).
All of these can be done by accessing your privacy settings at the top right of your Facebook page. There are 10 really good tips on this Unofficial Facebook site on how to deal with the new privacy settings.
Worth taking the 30 minutes it might take to sort this out.