10 Most Misunderstood Facebook Privacy Facts - InformationWeek

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11/21/2013
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10 Most Misunderstood Facebook Privacy Facts

Facebook privacy changes seem to never end. Get a grip on your account with these privacy settings tips and tricks.

Facebook is famous for its constant changes and new features, which can make tackling your privacy settings a daunting task. From figuring out photo album privacy settings to understanding the information users can surface about you through Graph Search, here are solutions to the most common Facebook hang-ups.

1. Not all photos adhere to your privacy settings.
While you may choose to share your photos or albums with only your friends, it's possible that some of your photos are set to public. These include former cover photos and profile pictures. By default, your current profile photo and cover photo are public; you can't change this. But unless you've changed the individual settings on your old profile and cover photos, it's likely these are still set to public.

To check the privacy settings of your profile and cover photos, navigate to your Albums page and open the related albums. Review these photos one-by-one and change the individual settings by clicking the drop-down menu beside them.

[ Want to trim your news feed? Read 5 Ways To Customize Your Facebook News Feed. ]

2. Your comments are searchable.
Graph Search indexes all of your comments, whether you've made them on your own profile or a friend's profile. Your comments on others' photos, for example, may be public, depending on your friends' privacy settings. To review your comments, navigate to your Activity Log. You'll find this next to the "Update Info" button below your cover photo. Your Activity Log displays all your actions on Facebook, from pages you've liked to comments you've made. Sort it by Comments, found on the left-side navigation.

Combing through all your comments will be tedious. You can see whether a comment was shared publicly based on the icon that appears next to it: The globe icon means it was shared publicly and can be searched and surfaced by any Facebook user. An icon with two silhouettes means it is shared with that user's friends; an icon with three means it's shared with that person's friends of friends.

You can't change the privacy setting of your comment if it was posted on a friend's account, but you can remove it: Just click the pencil icon next to the comment and choose "Delete."

3. Your profile will appear in Facebook searches.
Until recently, you could decide whether or not you wanted your profile to appear in Facebook searches when someone typed in your name. Not anymore. Facebook announced it is removing this setting, making every profile searchable. This means you should check your privacy settings to see who can see what.

To adjust your privacy settings now, start by using the "View As" feature to see what information is visible to the public, your friends, and your various friend lists. If you find information you want to remove, visit your Activity Log. Use the timeline slider on the right and the menu on the left to find the post you want to edit, then click the pencil icon or the privacy setting drop-down list to make changes.

Another option is using a blanket privacy setting that will control the privacy of all past posts. If you use this setting, all posts that were previously shared with friends of friends or publicly will be changed to friends only. To find this setting, navigate to your privacy page. Under the first option -- Who can see my stuff? -- you'll see "Limit the audience for posts you've shared with friends of friends or Public?" Click "Limit Past Posts" to enable this option.

4. You can prevent unwanted friend requests.
While you may no longer be able to remain hidden from Facebook searches, you can still control who can send you friend requests. Find this setting by navigating to your Privacy page.

Under "Who can contact me?" is the setting "Who can send you friend requests?" You have only two options: "Everyone" and "Friends of friends." To rein in who can send you friend requests, change this setting to "Friends of friends."

5. Your hidden photos appear in searches.
Facebook users are most sensitive about the privacy of their photos. Because Graph Search makes it easier for others to surface old pictures, it's important to revisit the privacy settings of photos you're tagged in as well as albums you've published and captions you've written.

Photos you have hidden from your timeline are still searchable. To review these photos, visit your Activity Log and click the drop-down menu next to "On timeline" at the top to switch to a hidden-only view.

To review photos you have shared or have been tagged in, click the Photos tab on the left-side navigation of your Activity Log and select "Photos of You." Combing through the photos can be painstaking, depending on how many you have been tagged in. Click the drop-down menu to the right of each picture to change the privacy setting if necessary.

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Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
8/10/2014 | 8:02:08 PM
Re: Sharing Personal Details
Facebook would say that sharing information like your phone number, employment info, and education would help others find you and vice versa -- though of course we know that their intentions aren't thatinnocent :-) . If it's not necessary to the service (or what you want out of the service) then less is more.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
12/17/2013 | 10:11:51 PM
Re: assume the worst
Exactly. That's the best way to look at it.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
12/3/2013 | 11:48:13 AM
Re: Re : 10 Most Misunderstood Facebook Privacy Facts
@SachinEE -- it's all about money and data. Especially with free services, you agree to giving up some personal data (and a whole lot more than you may have bargained for if you don't understanding the privacy settings and policies).
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 11:40:48 AM
Re: Apps are the worst
Facebook is sneaky when it comes to apps--thanks for bringing that point up. I'd bet that very few people read the fine print about what information and permissions individual apps request before they click "Ok."
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 10:35:37 AM
Assume they can see it
These ambiguous settings are the reason I have backed off Facebook. It's become too public. Even when you lock down your privacy settings, some comments and photos can slip through as this article by Kristin shows. It's definitely a good rule of thumb to assume your grandma or employer can see your FB content. You can't go too wrong that way.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 10:18:59 AM
Searches
Blocking yourself from appearing in searches was a bit of a false privacy anyway if the person was also on LinkedIn or Google+.  All you had to do was find someone they were connected to on one of those platforms, search for that person on Facebook, and then you could typically find their Facebook profile through that person's Friends list.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 10:00:10 AM
Re: Simple answer
@Kristin Definitely, people really have to learn what they're getting themselves into when they use social media; otherwise, they'll have a very rude awakening down the road.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 9:42:38 AM
Re: Simple answer
That's a great point, and another reason why knowing your settings inside-out is essential if you're going to use Facebook.
Ariella
IW Pick
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 9:35:39 AM
Re: Simple answer
@Kristin It's not just your grandmother you should be thinking of but any potential employer. One of my FB connections had a transplant and posts about her health regulary. When she was looking for a job, she wanted to know if she can hide her medical history so that it wouldn't count against her. Once it's out there on FB,  though, it's likely that an employer can find it, and the individual would not be able to prove that it was the health issue that made the person decide not to hire her.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 9:27:18 AM
Re: Simple answer
Lorna, that's a very good way to look at it. I've had several experts tell me this: "If you wouldn't want your grandmother to read it or see it, don't post it." Posting on Facebook and elsewhere really just comes down to common sense. It surprising how many people lack that.
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