Facebook undoubtedly is the greatest social networking tool created. It has allowed millions of people the ability to easily and regularly connect with friends and family – no matter how far away they are.
Such platforms make it extremely easy to let down our guard and willingly divulge personal information without thinking about who may see it and how it may be used by others, and in turn, how doing so may impact us.
Two weeks ago in this column, I shared some alarming statistics and other details about how Facebook gathers information on you and how various individuals and groups use this information. Today, I want to provide you three practical ways to protect your privacy on Facebook.
1. THINK before you type
Facebook allows you to share a wealth of personal details – your birthdate, relationship status, religious and political views, work and education history, where you live and more. You need to ask yourself, how important is it that I share this information? If you decide to share this information, you need to think about how much detail you wish to share – knowing that it can be used by less than honest people.
It’s also very easy to post a status update or upload a photo “off the cuff.” However, you need to think about WHO can see your post and WHAT potential effects it could have. For example, if you announce that you’re enjoying a weekend out of town, that could let the wrong people know that your house is empty and an easy target.
Remember, too, that even if you delete something from Facebook, it can remain stored on their servers for up to 90 days.
2. Understand you’ve agreed to how Facebook uses your information
When you created your Facebook account, you agreed to certain terms and conditions on how Facebook can use the things you share on the site. For example:
- Facebook can use any photos and videos you post in any way they wish without your approval.
- Deleting any content does not mean that all copies of it are immediately removed from Facebook’s servers.
- When you use an application within Facebook (such as Farmville or Birthday Calendar), you give the developer of that application access to and use of certain information contained in your profile, as well as potentially information from your friends’ profiles.
Knowing what Facebook and others can do with your information – always abide by Rule #1 – THINK BEFORE YOU POST!
For full Facebook terms and conditions, visit http://www.facebook.com/legal/terms.
3. Set and regularly review your privacy settings
Limiting who can see certain information about you, who can find you on Facebook, and more requires you to modify the default Facebook privacy settings.
You should take about 30 to 45 minutes to review and change the privacy settings to your liking. You can download a step-by-step guide to help you choose the right settings by visiting our website at http://www.calibreforhome.com/facebookprivacy.
Once you’ve set your privacy settings, you can’t simply forget about it. Facebook constantly changes its site, which can affect how your information is shared. I recommend reviewing your settings at least every other month to make sure your information stays locked down.
Above all, remember Rule #1 – THINK BEFORE YOU POST! Just because you’ve set your privacy settings does NOT mean that you are completely protected from having personal information shared with others who shouldn’t see it. You cannot completely lock down what you post or provide on Facebook.
In closing, while Facebook is a valuable and entertaining platform for interacting with others, you must always be on guard with how you use it and what information you share on it.